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HJELP JODENE HJEM (HJH)

Help Jews Home

Translated from Norwegian


Issue 3


Programs supported by HJH.

Hanukkah and Christmas greetings from HJH Chairman


1. Russian Jews from America on their first visit to Israel


EZRA, international youth movement


This organization works with children and young people, including those from Belarus, Ukraine, and France. Their aim is to encourage young people to immigrate into Israel as well as teaching them the history of Israel, its religion, culture, and geography. EZRA conducts classes for young people, organizes exploratory trips to Israel to establish new ties and cultivate in young people the feeling of belonging in the place. HJH supports the work of its branches in the former territory of the Soviet Union.


EZRA organizes trips to Israel for young people


In the eight years of its work (as of December 2008) nearly 200,000 young Jews had the opportunity to make a ten-day free trip to Israel.


The whole of Israel in ten days. The trip made a strong impression on the 32 Jews from America.


These were serious young people aged from 22 to 26. This time most of the group were young women, two of them married. For all of them Russian is their native tongue. They immigrated into the USA together with their parents or guardians in the early 1990s. Most of them have already completed their education and are employed.


EZRA organizes these tours with the support of HJH. They are active all over the world. Apart from taking young people to Israel on a tour they support them later as well. We are all hopeful that one day these young people will come back home. Home to Israel.


Beginning of a long process


According to Danny Ellinson, coordinator of EZRA in Israel, such a trip is only a beginning of a long process, which may take several years for this particular Russian-American group of young people. For those who arrive directly from Russia the process of naturalization in Israel takes significantly less time.


EZRAs main office is located in New York, but new offices have been opened in Boston, Minnesota, and Ohayo. Jewish communities have been set up there engaging in various activities. Any young people can join this tour and thus take part in the program of a first visit to Israel. They come here to see Israel with their own eyes and get a first-hand feel of the country. During the program they are assisted by instructors, both men and women, and they are constantly accompanied by a Russian-speaking guide. (They had a choice of languages and chose Russian.)


Full program


This groups program was the following:


Day One: Tel Aviv, sight-seeing of the city consisting of games and events.


Day Two: trip to Tsfat, visit to the synagogue, learning about Jewish traditions, Cabbala, meeting with the Rabi.


Day Three: Tveria, visiting the synagogue, Shabath.


Day Four: celebrating Shabath with games; a walk followed by a seminar, held in the hotel: What it means to be a Jew?


Day Five: Ramat ha-Golan. The group is accompanied by soldiers to talk to them about modern history of Israel, its wars, etc. A trip further towards the Lebanese border and the kibbutz Kfar-Giladi created in early 20th century near the Syrian border.


Day Six: Jerusalem, old town, Jewish quarters and the Wailing Wall.


Day Seven: Latrun and the Tank Museum (on that day the visitors were supposed to plant trees in the forest of Ezra and also to meet archaeologists from Emek ha-Ela, but these events had to be cancelled because of the rain.) Then they set out to Arad where they spent the night in Bedouins tents.


Day Eight: trip to Massada during the day followed by the trip to the Dead Sea and Eilat.


Day Nine: Return to Jerusalem, Yad va-Shem, a seminar in the morning, Shabath in Tel Aviv on Friday evening and on Saturday.


Day Ten: Return flight to the USA on Sunday morning.


Cousins Sasha and Elena:


My greatest dream has come true. It was to see Jerusalem. Sasha Chernenko (22 years old) smiles. Together with her cousin Elena Vinokurova (25 year old) she took part in the tour to the Promised Land. They found the information about the tour on the Internet.


My parents wouldnt believe me when I told them that I cold go to Israel free of charge. That was the most fantastic journey in my life. Elena nods in assent. They agree on most points of that trip: it showed them where their real homeland is and this changed their lives forever.


I had a completely different view of Israels politics, culture, and religion. The reality and what we read or hear or watch on TV in America are two completely different pictures. It became obvious to me when I came here. I think this is only a beginning of many things.— Elena smiles radiantly. The girls believe that all Jews should visit Israel to get a personal feel of it. They also say that those living in the USA will never really understand what sort of land it is without actually visiting it. They originally come from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Sashas grandmother lives in Moscow. Her parents moved to the USA when she was eight years old. Elena joined them in America when she was ten. For the whole group Russian is their native tongue but they speak perfect English.


What made the strongest impression on you?


Its amazing to see how the local people struggle on all fronts. Each one of them has a story of their own, and they all love their country. And those who dont love it simply cant live here, explain the girls in unison.


Do you plan to move to Israel?


I think life here is expensive. And apart from that we have to learn the language and find a job. Its hard to say for sure at the moment.


2. Our tasks require staunchness in prayer and in work


TORBJORN EKROLL

Work with immigrants is a prolonged process.


It is precisely at this time that the activities of Hjelp Jodene Hjem (HJH) set us the most important tasks of helping new immigrants and Israel in general. This is a long process. Again we have to remind ourselves that we need to remain staunch and faithful both in prayer and in our work of providing assistance and donations. We assumed responsibilities of supporting 25 organizations, which have made an enormous contribution into the cause of motivating immigration, supporting immigrants on their arrival in Israel and helping them integrate into the new Israeli society.


Work with immigrants to Israel takes a long time for many reasons. In the first place because immigration of Jewish people into Israel is a process that has always been vital for the nation, beginning with 1948 and to the present day. It is important for the consolidation and strengthening of Israel as a state. It is also of much importance because Israel has always provided a refuge for the persecuted Jews from all over the world.


Integration takes time


Our work with immigrants takes a long time and is carried out individually. For many people it takes several years from the moment of making a decision to emigrate to the full integration in the new society. Therefore, HJH should never forget that we are supporting long-term projects. When after a careful investigation our project receives the required subsidy we emphasize that it is a worthy and serious project often involving volunteers and we intend to support it as long as it will be necessary for the duration of its active functioning. We would like to be sure that the assistance we render is guaranteed to us, that our projects have long-term prospects.


The social projects we support are also important and we shall try to give them all necessary assistance. Today, after the Gaza war and the enormous hardships it inflicted on the local population and immigrants, the need for help is great. It was painful and at the same time useful to read in the latest Newsletter the story of Eli Finsween about her January trip to Israel.


To pray and work


We should now encourage one another to remain staunch and faithful these two human qualities are particularly valuable in earthly and spiritual matters.


I would like to remind you that this is precisely what Our Lord blesses us for calling on us to remain faithful and staunch all our life, both in work and in prayer. Prayer and work is a wonderful way for any person and God calls on us to follow this way. For us it means to pray for Israel, for the immigrants and Jews: the chosen people. To take care of them both inside and outside Israel. Our task today, yours and mine, is to translate all our love and gratitude to the Jewish people into practical help. If our prayer is directed towards the cause of helping people then God will certainly indicate to us when, what, and how much we ought to donate for the sake of this good deed.


3. Organizations and projects supported by HJH


ELI FINSWEEN

Executive director of HJH


First aid to immigrants


1. A World in Grace (formerly Public Centre).


2. Israel Centre for Community Involvement Bejahad.


3. Keren Klita.


4. Center for Crises Management SELAH.


Working with immigrants


5. Jewish Agency. Keren ha-Ekod five different projects:


— Ethiopian Jews;

— Ayalim, mission for the young;

— Georgian Jews;

— Restoration of schools in Shaar ha-Negev;

— Restoration of bomb shelters in Shaar ha-Negev.


6. Movement without Frontiers.


7. Yad Sarah.


8. Yad Vashem.


Education:


9. PNIMA.


10. Mahanaim.


11. Ulpan Aqiva.


12. Ulpan Halom.


Health:


13. Dental Volunteers.


14. Hadassah.


15. Shaare Zedek.


16. SHILOH.


Children and young people


17. EZRA.


18. Israeli Association for the Children of Immigrants.


19. Jerusalem Foundation.


20. Mother to Mother.


21. Shiluv.

4. A Month under the Sign of Generosity


OIVIND BERNATEK

Chairman of HJH


We are entering the month marked by the sign of generosity and light, both in the Christian and Judaic traditions. Christmas in Christianity and Hanukkah in Judaism are both festivals of light.


We celebrate Hanukkah in memory of the rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem 2200 years ago after the long-time desecration of it with Greek religious rites by Antioch who is responsible for the destruction of part of the building. Candles are a reminder of the seven-stick torch, the menorah, which was always alight in the temple. When it had to be re-lighted there was enough oil in the Temple for only one day but it burned for whole eight days until new oil had been made. That is why the festival lasts for eight days.


The nine Hanukkah candles that we light up day after day in honor of this festival symbolize for me the eight Hanukkah days while the last one is a symbol of hope in the times of trouble. On the first day the light is still week, only one candle is lighted, then the shamash (attendant) who lights the flame, adds one more candle each day until they are all ablaze. The Hanukkah candle-light should best be put on the windowsill or before the front door so as to share this wonder with the other people and show them light in the darkness.


Similarly, with our work we strengthen the spirit of those who doubt, we light up a new light in their lives, one light after another, so that the flame becomes so bright they could build up the strength to cope with everything. They become aware that they are no longer alone in the world, that other people will take care of them and help them. You give them faith in the new day, when all the eight candles will burn brightly to indicate that the difficulties from their previous life have been left in the past.


We light up candles where the terrorist rockets destroy Israeli houses. Where people attempt to start a new life in a new society. We light up a light of hope for the Jews from the former Soviet Union, from Ethiopia and India, for those who dreams to return to their homeland, Israel, but are unable to do that without outside help. They have not given up hope. And you show them a way out from the dark.


Although presents for Christmas and Hanukkah are part of religious duties, for both these festivals they have become a joyous tradition. We are eager to give presents to so many people, our family and friends, but there are other people in our society, who need presents even more. Why not send a present to a stranger? With our help you will find those who really need your support. If you want to unite your wish for gift-giving with helping the needy you can make a present in the name of a friend or a person dear to you. Just think what joy it will be to him or her in whose name your present would have been sent: they will thus be able to take part in helping the needy.


In the name of our organization Help Jews Home I would like to express my gratitude to all those who made our work possible. This year our activities retained the same high level while many new donor have joined us.


On behalf of Hjelp Jodene Hjem let me congratulate you with Hanukkah and Christmas and wish you a happy New Year!