The world witnessed the dramatic fall of the Iron Curtain in 1991. Christians and Jews watched the flood of the Soviet Union’s Jews pour into their ancient homeland. Prophecy came true before our eyes. Jeremiah 31:8a, “Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the ends of the earth…”.
In response to the approximate 5000 olim per month, the Soviet Jewry Department of ICEJ was established and became an exciting new chapter in ICEJ’s history. At the same time, also in Israel, Dutch volunteers recognised that the new arrivals had needs and initiated a program to offer basic nursing care to new immigrants in their homes. In 1994 this God-given initiative was taken up by ICEJ. ‘Homecare’ became an essential ministry of the Soviet Jewry Department with various nurses joining the team over the years. Corrie van Maanen who was a team member from the beginning, explains the essence of Homecare in the following article:
The Heartbeat of Homecare
Homecare! The word says it all. We care about people, mostly elderly Jews in their own homes. They made Aliyah to Israel, some many years ago, others more recently. All came with hopes and dreams. Some came alone, others with their offspring. They all left behind lives and homes in the former Soviet Union. Many are adjusting well and call Israel their home after years of integration and adjustment. Their children and grandchildren are now finding their way in Israeli society.
Unfortunately, among them are people who are broken from tough life experiences. Some are barely making it, financially or emotionally. They are languishing at the edge of society. Their life’s story is often too painful to share or hard to capture in words. With our Homecare program, we respectfully look for opportunities to walk alongside them. Not to speak big words, but to sit beside and listen. To give help where needed and lovingly offer practical nursing care. We bring hope, often with a cup of tea, celebrating a birthday, sharing the joy of the Jewish holidays or just everyday life, and building up precious relationships.
For many Russian-speaking Jews in Israel, New Year’s Day is an important day to celebrate. A tree reminds them of spring approaching in the long, cold, dark Russian winters they left behind. Some bring their artificial tree in a suitcase when they make Aliyah. It shows the importance. Sharing the evening with family and friends, it brings back childhood memories, a nostalgia for holidays past.
In a recent weekly visit to an elderly Jewish immigrant, I was hesitant to wish him ‘Happy New Year!’. With his fragile health and blindness at 97 years old, it is hard for him to find happiness. His family is not in Israel. He felt the struggle of the moment and explained that while others say, ‘Happy New Year’, Jews pray every day for the Eternal One to bring blessing and provision. With a little taste of wine, we lifted our glasses and wished each other well in daily provision. This was a beautiful picture of the simplicity and faithful work of ICEJ Homecare.
Your gifts will encourage Corrie, and bless the hurt and lonely who are tenderly cared for by the Homecare program. Donate here