AUSTIN, Texas, Oct. 9, 2017 /Christian Newswire
/ -- The legal charity is helping Jews denied the right to make "Aliyah" return to Israel amid a global trend of growing numbers of Jews moving to Israel in fulfillment of biblical prophecies.
Jerusalem, Israel -- It's a 2,000-year-old dream, and an even older prophecy.
In Zechariah 8:7 (NIV), the "Lord Almighty" said, "I will save my people from the countries of the east and the west. I will bring them back to live in Jerusalem; they will be my people, and I will be faithful and righteous to them as their God."
Now, the founders of the new nonprofit legal organization Help a Jew--Help the Holy Land
are assisting Jews in the former Soviet Union denied the right to return to Israel repatriate and move to the Promised Land.
While American Jews only need a rabbinical letter to obtain an immigration visa, Jews in Russia and the former Soviet republics face endless requests for documents, must jump through legal hurdles, and are often denied their "legal and God-given right" to return to Israel.
"We try to do pro bono as much as we can, but there is only a handful of us really fighting for these Russian Jews," says Anatoly Gakenberg, a London-based attorney and cofounder of Help a Jew--Help the Holy Land. "They need representation in Israeli courts. They need help in tracking down whatever evidence they are required to provide.
"It's a ton of documentation. It's a very cumbersome and expensive task to gather documented evidence of all your forefathers of Jewish descent. I'm talking about the archives of the former Soviet Union. You may have to fly there and spend time there. Some archives are not available. There are so many legal roadblocks we deal with it's really an insurmountable task to help one single family."
Last year, only 2,933 of America's 6 million Jews made Aliyah to Israel. In comparison, 13,027 of the former Soviet Union's 500,000 Jews repatriated to Israel. Over 9,000 families were denied their right to return to Israel, and most of these families cannot afford lawyers to handle their cases.
"Join our efforts and help them fulfill the biblical prophecies," Gakenberg says.
Currently, most of the money donated by American Christians and Jews to help Jews return to Israel is going to organizations focused on encouraging American Jews to move to Israel.
"We are calling on people who donate money to Aliyah to look into these areas where the money could be invested wisely," Gakenberg says. "If the Jews are not willing at the moment to move from the United States to Israel, this is their choice and we respect that. It's probably not wise to waste resources in convincing them to do so. We believe that the money could be spent more wisely on those areas where people are moving in greater numbers."
While the nonprofit organization Nefesh B'Nefesh incentivizes American Jews to move to Israel, there is no entity that calls on Russian Jews to do likewise.
"We want to fill that void," Gakenberg says. "Thousands of Jews and their descendants are unaware of their right to make Aliyah."
Eli Gervits, cofounder of Help a Jew--Help the Holy Land and president of the largest Russian-speaking law firm in Israel, says many of the 9,000 families in Russia and Ukraine denied the right to repatriate to Israel have been deprived their right without explanations.
"They frequently answer applications with, 'Go, we will call you'--and disappear for years," Gervits says. "Unfortunately, in thousands of cases this illegal and immoral way is what we have to deal with. And we are struggling against it over and over."
Although every Jew has the right to repatriate to the Holy Land, many are denied their opportunity by Israeli consular officials. The reasons often vary, but the process is opaque and written explanations are seldom provided.
"The written negative answer with a clear explanation can be protested by its holder in court," Gervits says. "The temptation is even higher if the petitioner is abroad, does not speak Hebrew, and has nobody close in Israel and does not know Israeli legislation. This person is unprotected. We cannot guarantee a quick and positive result to all people addressing us. But we can promise that they will not be left without protection. We will follow Al Pacino's words in the Heat movie--"We will fight!"
Help a Jew--Help the Holy Land, which is registered with the Internal Revenue Service as a nonprofit organization in Austin, Texas, is run by a group of legal professionals who specialize in the laws of Israeli repatriation. Gakenberg and Gervits have helped hundreds of former Soviet Jews exercise their legal and God-given rights to return to Israel.
Help a Jew—Help the Holy Land features three projects on its website--noble causes that people can donate to. These include:
1. Justice Served. Helping individuals and changing the system. While every Jew has the right to repatriate to Israel, too many are denied their opportunity. For those with legal and God-given rights, this program provides grants to sponsor the Israeli Supreme Court appeals, and is targeted at would-be repatriates who cannot afford the legal fees. Featuring grants of up to $10,000 per case, the legal charity fights for every Jew's right to return to the Holy Land.
2. Into the Archives. Making the burden of proof less of a burden. Many Jewish people know they can repatriate, but don't file applications because they're intimidated by the exhaustive list of required documentation. The former Soviet Union's archives contain official records of all birth and death certificates, but can be extremely difficult to navigate. This program offers grants for applicants to retain professional archivists. It also helps create a searchable online database for future applicants, making the process of obtaining documents much easier.
3. A Light in the Darkness. Raising awareness and spreading hope. For many years, Soviet Jews hid their identities to avoid persecution. As a result, many of these people and their descendants are unaware that they qualify for Israeli citizenship. This program raises awareness and hope for Jews who have never tried to go through the repatriation process.
Discover more about Help a Jew--Help the Holy Land
. Donations are tax deductible.