Olim Project


Shalom Dear Friend,

I would like to give you a short report and update about our work among Olim Hadashim (New Immigrants). You know that unfortunately there are hostilities between Ukraine and the separatists. Without considering who is right and who is wrong, we see hundreds of thousands of people who are being brought to Israel by a program of the Jewish Agency. Thank God for the opportunity to see the fulfillment of HIS word, which repeatedly proclaims, “I will bring my people into the land of their forefathers.” According to the latest data, 95,000 immigrants came to Israel from Ukraine in the past 12-16 months. Many of them have become Israeli citizens, and many have not. Different organizations are trying to help them, particularly with their citizenship. We see our task as something else—to give these people the motivation to adapt in the Land of Israel, and to serve them as the light of our Savior.

Most of us in “Return to Zion” congregation, like many of these immigrants, returned to Israel from the Diaspora. Some of us came here 20-25 years ago, some 13-18 years ago, others 7-10 years ago. But unlike those in this wave of immigrants, we did not leave a war zone. In general, as an assembly with the name Return to Zion, we just know that we should make every effort to ensure that we help those who are within our reach—those living in Haifa and its districts.

Approximately 12,000 people have come to Haifa and its suburbs. Many of them left Ukraine “under fire” and have little or no possessions. We received a small list of these people—about 400 families—and then our team at Shavei Zion decided to start a project called “Help to New Residents of Israel.”

We have developed a simple program consisting of four steps, with the aim to reach many and to involve a maximum possible number of people from our congregation. Of course, this required the mobilization of forces, and some very time-consuming work, but in the end we saw good results!

Here are the steps:

  1. We invited New Immigrants to our congregation and we gave them food packages. It’s not much, but when these packages eventually added up to more than a thousand, it was clearly a lot. And it was a great opportunity to get to know some of the immigrants.
  2. We invited New Immigrants to join tours. Often these trips are made only with religious overtones, but in this case the aim was to show the Land to new Israelis, and to help them fall in love with it. Most Olim, to our surprise, are far from religion and an understanding of Zionism. And as you know, you can live in our land if you have a love for it and a calling; otherwise, things do not work out. We praise the Lord for a whole team of believing guides with whom we were able to organize seven trips. About 330 people attended. All participants were grateful to us and impressed by everything. We showed them Jerusalem and the Galilee, the place where the prophets spoke and where events took place (both religious and political) that have influenced much of the world. Members of our congregation also attended those trips in order to get to know the immigrants and to make friends.
    Making friends is not so easy since many of the Olim are taking things with a grain of salt, and they have a great sense of distrust resulting from their experience in war.
  3. The third step was to invite people to celebrate the Jewish Kabbalat Shabbat (the welcoming of the Sabbath). Once the Lord said to our people, “You will be different from all other nations, and the Sabbath will be a sign of it for you.” We know and believe that this day is from the Lord, but we also know and believe that the sacrifice of the Messiah can lead people into a real Shabbat. Altogether, about 470-500 people took part in the Sabbath celebration. It was great. Up to 200 new Olim came to some Kabbalat Shabbat celebrations. Most of them had never seen a Sefer Torah (Torah scroll) or heard a Jewish liturgy. Although they came from “Christian” countries, most of them had never heard the texts of the New Testament, especially in its Hebrew meaning. I am sure it was effective as well as strong. Some of these people are attending our services now on a regular basis.
  4. The fourth step was to create a warehouse/storage area for Olim in our congregation building’s bomb shelter (Every public building Israel has a bomb shelter.). Everything was a bit spontaneous, but sponsors provided money, and we quickly furnished the bomb shelter with racks and provisions such as appliances for the kitchen, bed linen, etc. Also, private individuals and organizations suddenly responded, and as a result, people are coming twice a week to our congregational building to acquire goods they need. Our storage room is managed by volunteers (except for some supervision from Evgeny, our youth pastor and person responsible for special projects) and opens two times a week. Several hundred people visit our humanitarian warehouse each month. We believe and see that the kindness we wholeheartedly show to people shows them the heart of our Heavenly Father.

We believe that all of this will be stored in the memories and spirits of those to whom we have the opportunity to minister. It is important to note that this ministry could not take place solely through our own strength and resources. Many friends from abroad have contributed their strength, money, and prayers, and I see this as a real service before the LORD, as is written in the Scriptures

(Isiah 60; 4-11):

“Lift up your eyes and look about you: All assemble and come to you; your sons come from afar, and your daughters are carried on the hip. 5. Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy; the wealth on the seas will be brought to you, to you the riches of the nations will come. … 10. “Foreigners will rebuild your walls, and their kings will serve you. Though in anger I struck you, in favor I will show you compassion. 11. Your gates will always stand open, they will never be shut, day or night, so that people may bring you the wealth of the nations— their kings led in triumphal procession.”

Future Steps – Project for September 2015 until August 2016

A. Continue to operate the humanitarian warehouse

  1. Our goal is to help people with new stuff/goods
    • 300 new bedding sets @ 300 NIS/set . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .90,000 NIS
    • 200 new kitchen sets @ 350 NIS/set . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .70,000 NIS
    • 20 sets of equipment for babies (beds/bedding) @ 500 NIS/set . . . 10,000 NIS
    • diapers for children and adults . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15,000 NIS
    • glassware . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15,000 NIS
  2. Equipment for cleaning / electricity / payment of additional
    expenses for 12 months . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12,000 NIS
  3. Human resources (work is done not just by volunteers . . . . . . . . . . . . 40,000 NIS
  4. Petrol and distribution to those who are
    not able to reach us themselves . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3,000 NIS
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . TOTAL 255,000 NIS

B. Educational touring!!! We are trying to organize a club for Olim. This is still a dream,
but we hope to see all of it in our facility.

  • 12 trips with expenses of 3,300 NIS per trip = 40,000 NIS

C. An important point: We are planning to start two Alpha Courses in October 2015 for the new Olim who are interested in attending a series of meetings to study the Scriptures.

  • Each Alpha Course includes 12 meetings; two courses add up to 24 meetings.
  • The cost of each meeting is about 1,200 – 1,500 NIS for food (50-55 participants in one course). Total cost of 24 meetings: 36,000 NIS

We have learned to perform mass events for a low cost and quite effectively. We plan to combine all of this with a dinner and discussions. Many countries have tested the Alpha Course, and it has proven effective. Please pray for this project.
We have already received part of the funds, and we continue to raise more in order to minister to these new Olim. Our goal this year is to help them spiritually, as well as financially, and to strengthen their faith so that God will give them the grace to become His people. Please prayerfully consider participating with us in this crucial project.

With blessings from Zion,
Leon Mazin
Pastor of Shavei Tzion and the leader of “Return to Zion” Ministries


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