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Where Do Displaced Israelis Go?

Believers from around the world have helped provide shelter for the displaced by the present conflict in Israel.

Hamas launched a massacre on Israel on October 7, taking 1,300 innocent lives that day. The whole country woke up to a nightmare. Nobody knew how to process it. But sadly, that wasn’t the end of it. While bodies were still being recovered and victims identified, the barrage of rockets continued both near Gaza and in northern Israel. 

The local believers rallied together and mobilized to be the hands and feet of Yeshua. Thanks to the generosity of Christians worldwide, FIRM and several local partners have been able to help evacuate hundreds of families from danger zones.

In about seven locations across the country, we have been able to house them, provide for their needs, bring supplies, food, and even organize programs for children. If you donated to this worthy cause, we want to thank you and show you how your giving has made a difference. 

Swift Action to Shelter Displaced Israelis

Since October, over 200,000 Israelis have had to evacuate from their homes and seek shelter. 

Thanks to the amazing generosity of Christians, FIRM was able to partner with a local hotel in Jerusalem to house 500 of residents from near the border with Lebanon. Meanwhile, in partnership with Daystar TV, FIRM and another hotel in northern Israel prepared more room for hundreds more people.  

The gratitude expressed by displaced Israelis finding shelter in these hotels has been incredibly moving. Many said that the biggest thing was to be able to sleep again! It is such a basic human need, yet so often we just take the ability to rest for granted. 

“You’re saving us,” said one of the residents. “Because we don’t know how many days, how many weeks we’re going to be in this situation. Now we have [some basics], so we can survive. It’s so important to us!”

Displaced Israeli family hosted by FIRM

A Safe Haven in Jerusalem

The Yehuda Hotel on the outskirts of Jerusalem has generously opened their doors to welcome almost 500 people. These families were displaced from their homes along Israel’s border with Lebanon. It was no longer safe for them to stay. Hezbollah (a terrorist organization active in Lebanon) has been shooting rockets at random, to show their solidarity with Hamas in Gaza. 

Innocent Israelis in the northern towns and villages were in great distress. We were able to welcome them in their capital city with gift baskets from our local partners. Our local friends filled these baskets with daily essentials, toys, snacks and more. 

Displaced Israelis don’t know how long they will have to stay away from their homes. The war with Hamas has already been longer than some expected. So, we want to love on these people while they seek to find some sense of normalcy, especially for the sake of their kids.

These unusual circumstances have also enabled local ministries to work together in unprecedented ways. Believers came to serve, ministries banded together to lead music classes, put on workshops, provide art therapy. This sense of unity and cooperation has been both humbling and inspiring. 

One of Many Displaced Israeli Families

“To be honest, when I first heard that there was a hotel for us, I thought it was something probably really makeshift,” a mother from southern Israel shared with us, after her whole family arrived in Jerusalem. “We’ve never been in a situation like this before, it was surreal! We woke up at 6:30 and rockets were firing just outside our window. We could see them very clearly!”

“Immediately, we had to pick up our sleeping son and carry him into the car, to drive to a nearby family members’ home who had a bomb shelter, since ours didn’t,” she recalled. “I was so grateful to get out… When we entered this hotel, it was so amazing… it means the world in a situation like this, when you have nowhere else to go.” 

The grateful mom also mentioned the children’s programs. FIRM has been blessed to collaborate with the Ministry of Education that swiftly organized activities for the kids at the hotel. It is not something any of the parents thought about, as they had to pack up their lives in minutes. She was delighted to see that there was a sense of community at the hotel. 

“I know I’m not alone when I say that, as parents, this means the world to us,” she continued. To the donors [I’d like to say], God knows how grateful [I am] that you are thinking about families that you’ve never met before… It’s something we [will] never forget.”

Activities for displaced kids in Israel

Local Communities Join Housing Efforts

While the hotels were filling up quickly, local moshavs (agricultural communities) got ready to help too as soon as they heard of the great need. One of them is a Messianic moshav, Yad HaShmona, right outside of Jerusalem. 

“Somebody wrote on the village WhatsApp that it’s rockets we are hearing… soon phone calls started coming in, [saying] we need to leave the South… could we come over to your place, do you have space,” Ayelet from Yad HaShmona recalled. “We had a quick meeting and said, let’s open [our doors], let people come… [And soon] the whole village was involved – it was just a wonderful thing to see!” 

In many moshavs, which are now private, people still lead very communal and generous lives. 

“We’re all worried, but we’re in it together,” she added with confidence. “The fact that so many donors stand behind us [is such a relief]. It was a miracle for us that we could just [go ahead] with what needs to be done and not worry [about provisions]. We just want to thank you for being there for us, and for all of Israel.”

Ayelet shared that local Israelis are still amazed how much support they receive from abroad, especially from Christians. Thus, the donations are making a difference not just financially, but also emotionally and psychologically.

Christians Supporting Locals in Caring for the Displaced

Another location where displaced Israelis found shelter thanks to Christian generosity is a kibbutz in Northern Israel. A kibbutz, just like a moshav, is a small village built around a strong sense of community and shared values.

Jeannette and her family moved to the kibbutz in the north years ago, because they wanted to raise their children in the environment the kibbutz provides. Now they are able to bless families displaced by the war through hosting them in this communal environment.

Jeannette says that the displaced families are surprised to hear that Christians from around the world are the ones facilitating their stay at the kibbutz.

“There’s this sense in the Israeli identity that we’re pretty much by ourselves,” shared Jeannette.

Jew and Gentile Working Together

By the end of October, already 60,000 Israelis were displaced from their homes. Israelis all around the country sought ways to help and volunteer. Among them also expats, who decided to stay in Israel despite many embassies urging their citizens to leave. 

“My husband and I moved to Israel for his work,” said Bethany. “We’ve been here for a few years, but what happened recently was a newer experience for us. I realized how much I took for granted, the safety we naturally just have in the United States. 

“Running to bomb shelters is not the norm for me, but my heart really starts to break [thinking] this is their norm! They’ve grown up under these circumstances, with these fears, and it makes me want to toughen up and do something about it.”

Bethany joined the efforts of Messianic believers in Israel to pack food boxes for families in need, for people living in bomb shelters, and soldiers at the front. 

“There’s [many] here who need my help. We were able to unload a bunch of pallets of food, put together a bunch of boxes… These [believers] are amazing, we need more people like them.”

What About the Displaced Israeli Children?

The families at the Yehuda Hotel in Jerusalem did not know how long they would have to stay away from their homes. Bringing just essentials, many started to worry about the wellbeing of their children. 

Some young parents at FIRM had a beautiful idea to create a “Wall of Hope” at the hotel, with artwork from children across the world. They include scriptures with encouraging notes, drawings, and coloring pages—all with a message of love and hope. 

These colorful “wallpapers” have brought a little bit of light and a little bit of joy into the lives of children who are missing their playrooms and schools. The innocence of our children is sadly one of the first victims of war. 

The Coloring Hope initiative was launched to encourage and love on children who were caught in the middle of a crisis. Parents all around the world get a unique opportunity to color pictures of hope with their kids, while teaching them about Israel and how to pray for the people of Israel.  

Kids all over the world take part in FIRM's colouring hope initiative for displaced children in Israel

Bringing Hope and Healing to the Displaced in Israel

It may be difficult to imagine how one continues to live a normal life after leaving their home in haste and not being able to return. For some, it has already been more than eight weeks and the future remains uncertain. 

All the more, we want to use this as an opportunity to shine God’s light in the midst of a dark situation. We are so grateful for the generous and thoughtful Christians who didn’t hesitate to invest into the FIRM emergency crisis fund to help these families and surround them with love. 

Coming alongside Israelis at a time when they feel more alone than ever is truly transformative. We believe that together as the Body of Messiah, we are showing Israel what Jesus taught us and called us to do – how to serve one another in love. 


If you want to take part in bringing hope and healing to these displaced Israelis check out this link

 

End of Year Campaign 2023: Hope and Healing - The Road to Recovery

Bring hope and healing to people hurting in Israel

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Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

FIRM is a global fellowship of Biblically-grounded believers committed to cultivating Messiah-centered relationships that bless the inhabitants of Israel—Jews, Arabs, and others—and the Jewish community around the world.
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