A big area and a big task: This is the challenge continually faced by Ebenezer – Operation Exodus in Rostov–on–Don, central city in the South Federal District of Russia. In addition to being responsible for seeking out and helping Jewish people in Rostov and the surrounding region, base leaders Volodya and Luba oversee the work of our representatives at sub–bases in Astrakhan, Volgograd, Krasnodar and Tuapse.
Officially there are just under 5,000 Jewish people living in Rostov and surrounding area but our teams think there are many more. Aliyah is increasing from Rostov and our team members need much prayer for the Lord to guide them to many more of His people to tell them about Him calling them ‘home’ to Israel.
Valery and Alya, our representatives in Astrakhan, certainly have reasons for doubting official figures of Jewish people of just over 1,000. In the city and region around it they have come across many Jewish people who have the right to return to Israel.
Volgograd was once officially reported to be the second highest city in Russia for the number of anti–Semitic attacks. The city and surrounding region have seen more Jewish people make aliyah than in any other part of Russia. Ebenezer representative Sasha and co–workers have been giving a lot of help to Jewish families to enable them to leave for Israel as soon as possible. So many more need financial assistance to do so.
Sochi, sprawling summer and leisure ‘capital’ of Russia’s beautiful Black Sea coast, is the centre of our work in Krasnodar region. From there Lena, our regional representative, reaches out to Jewish people not only along the coast but also in the mountains that lie beyond the city. This area is reached along a winding highway notorious for slow traffic and frequent accidents. Lena and her helpers keep on discovering new Jewish families, especially in the mountain settlements.
Galina and co–workers in Tuapse, a major transportation centre and port on the Black Sea coast, have found that many Jewish people are afraid of admitting their family roots, yet they have come into contact with a number who have shown real desire to leave for Israel.
The South Federal District has many large urban areas. There are Jewish communities in a number of them. Many Jewish people turn to us for help, including refugees from Central Asia and elsewhere. Ebenezer – Operation Exodus is building up relationships to help these families make aliyah.
Ukraine means ‘borderland’ or ‘on the edge’ – the traditional crossroads between Europe and Central Asia. Split between Russia and Poland, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Romania at various times down the centuries and occupied by the Nazis during World War II, it was not until the fall of the Soviet Union that mainly flat and fertile land gained independence.
No one suffered more than the Jews at the hands of the Nazis during Hitler’s invasion of Russia. They were herded into ghettos and concentration camps, and slaughtered at many places in Ukraine – especially Babi Yar near Kiev. Ebenezer has helped many Holocaust survivors to make aliyah.
Ukraine is where Ebenezer’s work in the fSU began in 1991 with the Mediterranean Sky sailings from Odessa, on the Black Sea, to Haifa, Israel. The sailings were continued, mainly by the Ukrainian Dmitry Shostakovich and other vessels including the Israeli–owned Iris and Jasmine, until 2004.
Much of the work in Odessa involved meeting repatriates at the railway station, bus station and ferry from Kherson, to transport them to accommodation at the base and then take them and their luggage to the port on sailing day. Teams travelled with the olim on the ship, providing practical help, especially to the sick and handicapped, ran children’s activities and ensured that pets were cared for. An intercessors’ team on board and at the base was an important part of the ministry and there were miraculous answers to prayer during sailings.
Between sailings teams in Odessa took part in ‘fishing’ trips in the Odessa area and beyond to encourage and help Jewish people make aliyah, as well as distributing humanitarian aid, which remains an important Ebenezer ministry in Ukraine.
The shipping operation ended in 2004 after the EEF leadership had sought the Lord and came to the unanimous conclusion that He was saying that the sailing season was over for the time being. He impressed on them that the ship had been a prophetic sign to the Jewish people and now the suspension would also be a prophetic sign – of warning them that help might not always be available.
Another factor is that during the 13 years of the sailings it became easier to fly to Israel as more airports began to operate international flights.
Today Ebenezer’s work in Ukraine is directed from Kiev, the capital – seeking and helping Jewish people to make aliyah and distributing humanitarian aid, which has helped to much strengthen friendship and co–operation with Jewish organisations.
Intro, The Russian Federation, Siberia > > Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg > > Moscow, Pyatigorsk > > Rostov–on–Don, Ukraine > > Moldova, Armenia, Georgia > > Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan > > Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, The work of our bases in the former Soviet Union > >