Friday, 23 Feb 2018 - 8 of Adar, 5778

Spike of the number of inquiries from Venezuelan Jews about moving to Israel, special Facebook hotline opened

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JERUSALEM (EJP)—A special hotline for Jews of Venezuela has been opened to respond to their spiking interest in moving to Israel as their country’s political instability intensifies.

The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship), which is the only local organization helping Venezuelan Jews immigrate to Israel, launched the Facebook chat line for the community to provide around-the-clock access to more information about the process after seeing a “significant increase” in the numbers of inquiries from local Jews about moving to Israel.

The chat line will operate 18 hours per day, while a local staff person in Caracas will field phone calls during the other six hours daily.

“The Venezuelan Jewish community is increasingly feeling threatened and people are suffering financially,” said Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, The Fellowship’s founder and president. “More and more Venezuelan Jews are asking us about starting new lives in Israel, and we promise to help them make the journey to their Jewish homeland, and stay with them every step of the way.”

Over the past 18 months, The Fellowship has brought 153 Venezuelan Jews to Israel, including two flights in July with 26 people.

Another flight was scheduled this week with four immigrants. The Fellowship originally expected to bring another 50 Jews to Israel from Venezuela by year’s end, but is now expecting to double that amount, to an additional 100 immigrants by year’s end, and bring even more in 2018.

The Venezuelan-Jewish community has not escaped the impact of the country’s volatile conditions. Some 700 Jewish families in the capital of Caracas receive communal charitable assistance, while The Fellowship has been supplying medicine to the Jewish community in Venezuela as well.

After several years of discontent with the far-left government under President Nicolas Maduro and his late predecessor and political godfather Hugo Chavez, Venezuela has been racked by protests that began in April against Maduro’s government.

“The situation is very hard,” Michal Levy, 35, told The Jerusalem Post last month upon arriving in Israel with her three children. “It’s hard to get basic things like bread and flour,” Levy said, adding that she has been afraid to leave her house due to riots and kidnappings.

Basic goods and services have been disrupted by economic malfunction and social stability has been disintegrating in almost daily running battles between police and youths in the streets.

Following a failed military coup attempt against the Maduro government more than two weeks ago, and the firing of the country’s attorney general, Luisa Ortega Diaz, Rabbi Eckstein redoubled The Fellowship’s pledge to help any Venezuelan Jew who wants to move to Israel.

Venezuela is home to some 9,000 Jews, down from about 25,000 in 1999. Many Jews left, mainly for Florida and Israel.

 

 

In May, President Maduro likened the harassment of his country’s government officials and their families living abroad to the treatment of Jews under the Nazis. He also said that opposition rallies in Caracas were reminiscent of rallies during the rise of Nazism and fascism in pre-World War II Europe.

Venezuela is home to some 9,000 Jews, down from about 25,000 in 1999. Many Jews left, mainly for Florida and Israel.

Twenty-six Jews from Venezuela immigrated to Israel on Tuesday and Wednesday, part of a general surge in emigration from the country as its political and economic crises have paralyzed parts of the nation

 

Following a failed military coup attempt against the Maduro government more than two weeks ago, and the firing of the country’s attorney general, Luisa Ortega Diaz, Rabbi Eckstein redoubled The Fellowship’s pledge to help any Venezuelan Jew who wants to move to Israel.

 

The Fellowship pays for each family’s transportation to Israel, and provides each adult with $800 and each child with $400, on top of the Israeli government’s support for all new immigrants. The Fellowship also provides a variety of other support services for new immigrants immediately upon their arrival, including in-home visits to review their needs and provide aid for such needs as food, appliances, furniture, day-care, vocational training, and even dental care, to help them start their new lives.

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