JERUSALEM, Israel — Jerome Henri Cohen was born in Paris and he was also born a Jew. But despite his heritage, he was living a secular life, first as a journalist and then as a successful lawyer in the French capital.
Cohen did not feel any discrimination because of his heritage — until he decided to embrace Judaism. Things changed when he asked for time off from work to celebrate the Sabbath and other aspects of practicing his faith proved challenging.
That changed when the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) helped Cohen move to Israel in July where, under Israeli right of return law, he was granted citizenship and is getting help for his first six months in his new homeland, including with housing and employment.
“That’s my dream,” Cohen told Breitbart News of his repatriation to Israel. “That’s what my ancestors wanted.”
In fact, like the organization that helped him come to Israel, Cohen believes his return is fulfilling biblical prophecy that says all Jews will return to the land God promised them.
“We are making history,” Cohen said. “I changed the destiny of my family.”
“It’s huge,” Cohen said, adding that he believes the mission of IFCJ — which embraces the Zionist belief of Jews returning to their ancestral home, with the help of Christians around the world — is healing the rift between the two faiths that has existed since the birth of Jesus and the founding of the Christian church.
“It’s really wonderful to feel that,” Cohen said. “We are doing something that is important for us and for humanity.”
Cohen’s “aliyah,” or immigration to Israel, is part of the larger mission of IFCJ, according to Yael Eckstein, senior vice president of the organization founded in 1983 by her father, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein to “promote understanding between Jews and Christians and build broad support for Israel,” according to its website.
“Christians around the world are able to show their love from Israel and the Jewish people,” Eckstein told Breitbart News.
— The Fellowship (@TheFellowship) September 15, 2017
Eckstein said that her organization is not a fund-raising organization but rather a “bridge-building” group that gathered as much as $150 million a year in donations to help repatriate Jews, help care for the poor in Israel and contribute to the effort to protect Israel from its enemies.
Eckstein said that the interest from Christians around the world to help Israel — especially among Evangelicals — has increased dramatically in recent years, as has the need for Jews to escape persecution around the world. This includes a record number of 26 non-western countries where IFJC is helping Jews repatriate to Israel.
“That has grown dramatically in recent years,” Eckstein said. “We see a rising need to escape these countries.”
Those countries include — for the first time since World War II — Russia, and the Ukraine, where she said Jews now arrive in Israel at least once a week.
In all, Eckstein said, some 10,000 Jews have been brought to Isreal.
10,000 Olim and Counting! https://t.co/uJnVwnfOyy
— The Fellowship (@TheFellowship) September 6, 2017
“We putting in place a whole new reality — tapping into this prophetic reality that is unfolding before our very eyes,” said Eckstein, who has been in Israel for more than a dozen years and all four of her children were born here.
The work of IFCJ also has included building 5,500 bomb shelters and providing food for Israelis in need, Eckstein said, noting that Israel does not have a national food program.
The Jewish American media outlet, The Algemeiner reported on Friday that IFCJ, which is based in Chicago and Jerusalem, will provide $1.5 million to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in annual Rosh Hashanah “Fellowship Gift Cards” to 12,000 IDF soldiers marking the upcoming Jewish New Year.
“The initiative, coordinated in collaboration with the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers and the LIBI Fund, will provide more than 10,000 lone soldiers and soldiers $140 gift cards. Another 2,200 soldiers will receive gift cards worth $100,” the Algemeiner reported.
IFCJ said Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) is the main force behind the holiday program for IDF.
The cards “will allow the soldiers to celebrate the New Year without the burden of financial stress,” the organizations said in a statement issued last week.
“The vouchers can be used at some 90 major Israeli retail chains to purchase food, clothing, shoes, sporting goods and leisure products,” the Algemeiner reported, adding that 840 soldiers serving in the IDF are from the United States.
Eckstein said the long history of Jews being persecuted and attacked by enemies around the world continues and she said told Breitbart News that she hopes Christians from America come to Israel to see beyond the “fake news” presented by the U.S. media.
“Come visit, come experience, come see the beauty beyond the politics,” Epstein said, adding that she is grateful for Israel-loving people around the world.
“Thank God we are not alone and that there are people who understand the difference between good and evil,” Eckstein said.