“Though I make a full end of all nations… yet will I not make a full end of thee” Jeremiah 30:11
God has declared His Purpose with the nation of Israel. Let our actions be as consistent with His purpose, as those we are about to outline regarding the heritage we have from the actions of our brothers and sisters.
The prophecies of the liberation and future blessings of the holy city, Jerusalem, when all of Israel is redeemed and the world reconciled to God, are widely distributed throughout the Old and New Testaments. Zion is at the centre of the prophetic panorama of the Kingdom of God on earth.
The Messiah, as Saviour and Sovereign, is to restore the promised land and refresh the whole earth with a natural order of harmony and productivity. The righteous king, victorious over all nations, will convert them to follow God’s way in peace. Thus persons in all races, their societies and the world of nature, are transformed at the final glory. Constantly this great redemption centres on Israel and her sons, the restored twelve tribes, ruled by a Divinely appointed sovereign and his associates (Isaiah 59:20–21; chapters 60, 62, 65 and 66; Jeremiah 3 and 30–33; Micah 4 and 5; Joel 3; Zechariah 4, 6, 8 to 14; Ezekiel 37 to 48; Romans 11 and Revelation 19 to 22).
Detailed expositions of prophecy in our pioneer writings carefully delineated the “partial and primary return” of Jewish people as a prelude to the revelation of Messiah in power and glory and contrasted it with the great Second Exodus after the nucleus of the Kingdom of God commences in Zion. This world-wide ingathering of Jews will be purified in their struggle back to Zion. Since the time of our pioneers, nearly three million Jews, including over three hundred thousand children in Youth Aliyah, have returned as the greatest sign that Christ’s coming is imminent.
Care Commences Last Century
From the beginning, The Christadelphian magazine edited by Brother Robert Roberts for over thirty years, focused on fulfilling Bible prophecy and the destiny of the Jewish people. Brother John Thomas wrote leading articles upon the subject. Individuals and ecclesial contributions were donated to appeals for the Jewish colonisation of Palestine and to the fund established by Sir Moses Montefiore, the honoured Jewish philanthropist. From 1882 to 1887 hundreds of gold Napoleon coins and several crates of clothing donated by Christadelphians, were distributed to ease the desperate plight of the first pioneer settlements of Russian, Polish and Rumanian Jews. The Christadelphian Editor, Brother Robert Roberts, published the letters from Brother Viccars Collyer in Palestine. On his return there were monthly serial reports of the “Journey to Palestine” and also “The Prospects of the Holy Land”.
In Birmingham the new editor from Australia for The Christadelphian magazine, Brother C.C. Walker, welcomed Brother Charles A. Ladson who relocated from the Beechworth Ecclesia, Victoria, and commenced a long series of articles on “The Jews in Their Land” and “Jews in the News”.
Excitement Over Emerging Events
Christadelphians world-wide became very enthusiastic over the series of Zionist conferences in Switzerland and London from 1897 to 1904. Discussion centred on the foundations of a Jewish return and the means to finance the return.
The Anglo-Palestine Bank and the Jewish National Fund (JNF) were set up. Christadelphians have continued to send money to the JNF for ninety years for the planting of trees, building of roads, clearing hill-top settlement sites and digging for and storing water for irrigation resources. At the time of the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, Australian Christadelphians donated to the JNF Jewish Refugee Fund to assist fugitive German Jewish refugee families to settle in Palestine.
Wonderful Events Between World Wars One and Two
Brother Frank G. Jannaway visited Palestine and published several books on fulfilling Bible prophecies involving the nations of the Middle East and the world.
The Balfour Declaration sent to Lord Rothschild and dated 2 November 1917 was immediately highlighted by the British General Allenby capturing Jerusalem on 9 December 1917 and the League of Nations granting Great Britain the mandate over Palestine in 1922. The United States Congress Declaration of support for a Jewish homeland was seen to fulfil the prophecies of a latter day Tyre and the merchants of Tarshish.
In Adelaide, four Town Hall lectures were presented on the Jews, Russia, Britain and Armageddon by Brother Charles P. Wauchope. These lectures were repeated elsewhere and were published. They were referred to in the Federal Parliament. In 1929 the Adelaide Ecclesia funded the planting of a small forest in Israel. Interstate brethren and sisters donated to charities in Palestine, such as the Hebrew Institute for Care of the Blind.
Henrietta Szold—Mother of Youth Aliyah
After her first visit to Turkish Palestine from the USA in 1909, Miss Henrietta Szold returned to live there from 1920 to her death in 1945. As President of Hadassah, the Jewish Women’s Zionist organisation in America, she had organised Russian immigration, the Jewish Publications Society, the Hadassah Medical Organisation, hospitals and Infant Stations, Social Welfare and Palestine Zionist Executive work. The agricultural settlements of the Jezreel Valley met at Ein Harod, Gideon’s brook, in June 1933 and agreed to absorb rescued Jew- ish youth. At 73 years of age, vigorous and in full health, Henrietta Szold did not retire after her full lifetime of activities for the welfare of the Jewish people. Instead she dedicated herself to the work of Youth Aliyah until she died on 13 February 1945, worn out at 85 years of age. At that time the Nazi extermination camps at Chelmno, Auschwitz and the ghetto still in Budapest were liberated.
In 1935 when Henrietta was recounting the story of her social service in Palestine, the direction of Youth Aliyah, the fighting against exploitation and poverty of the Jewish children internationally, she was asked how she had succeeded in becoming expert in so many specialist fields. Her answer was, “You work here with your intellect. My work is that of a mother who must watch out for her children’s wants and for their future. The people of Palestine are my children and I feel like the mother who must be on the look out for symptoms of illnesses and provide against them. My work, like the mother’s, comes from the heart”.
The Seven Year Gap to Freedom and Life Closes (1933—1940)
The world-wide depression years dragged Australia down, with one in every three men without a continuing job, large numbers frantically travelling between towns and regions looking for any work, shanty towns spreading for the homeless and families undernourished from the small “dole”. In the 1930s, cottage meetings were conducted to study Elpis Israel and other writings of Brother Thomas and events affecting Jews in the Middle East and Central Europe were closely followed. Contributions were made to the Jewish Refugee Appeal to assist those fleeing Nazi Germany to be resettled by the Jewish National Fund (JNF) in Palestine.
At the time of the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, Australian brothers and sisters donated to the JNF Jewish Refugee Fund to assist fugitive German Jewish refugee families to settle in Palestine.
From 1933 to 1939 hundreds of thousands of German and European Jews sought refuge as emigrants to overseas nations.
Last hopes were lost after the Evian Conference and the Munich debacle when the western nations refused further intakes of Jewish refugees and severed Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia, for Hitler On 30 January 1933, the day Adolf Hitler was proclaimed Chancellor, a Berlin Rabbi’s wife, Reicha Freier, together with her working party met to plan to send the first group of twelve Jewish youngsters out of Germany to Ben Shemen Youth Village near Lod Airport. On 13 February 1934, the vanguard group of 43 boys and girls arrived at Ein Harod.
Subsequently, up to the outbreak of World War Two, almost 5,000 Jewish youths were rescued and another 6,200 during the early years of German Nazi expansion. During the 66 months, the five and a half years of World War II, one and a half million Jewish babies, children and youth perished in the expulsions and the ghettos, were shot in round-ups and slaughtered in death pit massacres, labour and extermination camps, the medical experiments and the mass gassings and cremations. Jewish child survivors—hardly any less that six years old—were found in the camps, in the forests and in hideaways where they were placed by “Righteous Gentiles”. They were often barely alive from death marches, murder squads and extreme malnutrition. Many of the thousands held in concentration camps and then in displaced person camps after the war, never enjoyed their liberty—they died within months of their rescue. Only one in a hundred Jewish children survived the Holocaust—like the one lost lamb which was found and rejoiced over. Their rescuers were from Aliyah Bet, the secret transport organisation which smuggled the children by sea and land into British Mandate Palestine. Another seventeen thousand arrived from the Moslem countries and the remnant from Europe in the first three years of the new state of Israel.
English Christadelphians and the “Kinder Transports”
Ten thousand Jewish children escaped from Nazi Europe, mainly to England, on the eve of World War II.
Few of their parents and family members survived to be re-united with these children, who have started new family generations and have often risen to heights of humanitarian help towards other masses of alienated and suffering humanity since 1939.
The self-supporting efforts of English Christadelphians in receiving many of the frightened arrivals on the south coast and in London and trans- porting them to safer regions in the Midlands and beyond, is documented in historical studies such as “Survivors: Jewish Refugees in Birmingham”, “I Came Alone”, “Return to Auschwitz”, “We Came as Children”, “And the Policeman Smiled” and the “Elpis Lodge Scrapbook 1940–1948”.
The children were taken to hostels supported by ecclesias, into private homes for fostering and adoption and brought into community social activities and Sunday Schools.
Christadelphian Ecclesial Refugee Committees in the Birmingham and Midland areas, Coventry and Rugby, raised funds to establish hostels and to cover recurrent costs for several years. They later attempted to re-unite survivors of depleted families with these refugees. “Little Thorn”, Hilton Road Rugby (July 1939) and “Elpis Lodge” in Gough Road towards Edgbaston (April, 1940), led the way.
“And the Policeman Smiled”, page 163 records that “… among the Non-Jewish organisations responsible for hostels, the Christadelphians were to the fore. With their faith rooted in the Jewish Law, the Christadelphians had a long-standing interest in co-operative ventures, contributing generously to attempts to re-establish the Jewish people in Palestine. When the exodus of children from Germany and Austria began they were among the first to respond”.
One brother near Coventry received into his home and then channelled into Christadelphian foster homes throughout twenty four main Midland, Welsh and Scottish towns, some one hundred Jewish children.
A brother and sister in north London opened their home as a first contact refuge and forwarding centre for Jewish displaced persons after the war.
Christadelphians “Down Under” Donate to Youth Rescue and Jewish Relief
From the earliest “Intelligence” notices from the first ecclesias in Australia and New Zealand appearing in The Christadelphian magazine during the late eighteen hundreds and from the earliest historical reviews compiled from ecclesial minutes of business meetings and from foundation families’ records, there is evidence of a lively interest in fulfilling Bible prophecy as perceived in the events involving the great nations in the wars of Europe and Turkey and the troubles in Palestine. Brother Robert Roberts exhorted at the Birmingham Ecclesia on Sunday 5 March 1882, on help for the suffering Jews of the Russian Empire. A special collection was taken in aid of the Montefiore Jewish Emigration Fund. For many years after this an annual collection was taken “in aid of Jewish Colonies”, in both Great Britain and overseas.
An early acknowledgement of contributions mentions that in September 1883, the fourteen members of the Goolwa, South Australia, Ecclesia sent three pounds “in aid of the recolonisation of Palestine”. In the minutes of the monthly meetings of the Goolwa Ecclesia, where all members participated in planning arrangements, for Wednesday 12 November 1884 it was “resolved that a collection be made in the forthcoming Sabbath in aid of, and for the furtherance of, the Colonisation Scheme in restoring Jews to Palestine”. Then for 23 December 1884, it was reported “… that the collection for the Jewish Colonisation Fund amounted to fifteen shillings… This amount was augmented by unanimous consent to twenty shillings (one pound), to be at once forwarded on to its destination by the Secretary Protem”, who was Brother Gilbert Jerdan, father of Sister Adele Colquhoun, who supported her husband, Brother Lindsay Colquhoun in the work over many years.
From near the end of World War II, for twenty years each Sunday morning in Adelaide, Brother Lindsay Colquhoun and Sister Eunice Porter would set out in the cloak rooms in the Adelaide Temple the large ruled sheets of rows of names and columns of dates for the recording of the disciplined, regular donations by members – of the threepences, sixpences or shillings. With ecclesial collections, more than $130,000 was raised over the thirty five years until age and ill health required that the work was continued by others.
Fifty Seven Years of Contributions to Youth Aliyah (1940—1996)
WIZO (Women’s International Zionist Organisation) sent Mrs Ariel Bension to alert the Jewish communities throughout Australia, but they were unable to comprehend the unfolding tragedy and slow to marshal support. In February 1940, Mrs Bension was the guest speaker at the inaugural WIZO—Youth Aliyah meeting in the Adelaide Ec- clesia in Halifax Street. The report of that meeting and “Memoirs of Mrs Ariel Bension’s Visit: Jacob’s Trouble” were some of the early articles on Jews in the Logos magazine during World War Two.
By 1944 some two thousand three hundred pounds, (equivalent in value in present day terms to four or more house and land packages) was raised by Australian Christadelphians. In Sydney the Chatswood Ecclesia convened public meetings to enable Jewish speakers such as Dr Traub from the JNF in Palestine, to inform and illustrate to capacity audiences, some of the developments in the building up of the Holy Land and to break the first news of the growing genocide of European Jewry by the “Special Action” firing squads and the death camps of the Nazis.
In 1942–1943 the sisters of Chatswood and other Sydney ecclesias prepared and sent a first shipment of 300 items of clothing to the Babies’ and Children’s Home established by British WIZO in Jerusalem. For more than 45 years since then, sisters’ classes and Dorcas groups have been sending their five kilogram postal packs to the WIZO clothing depot in Tel Aviv for distribution to the most needy. In the last seven years since September 1988, the sisters in Adelaide, with support by continuing inflows of clothing and toys from all states of Australia, have sewn, knitted and reconditioned 267,500 items, have packed them in over 2,000 large export cartons, and have despatched them in over twenty shipments.
With the growing work over the last seven years the Chesed Clothing Fund has operated separately from Youth Aliyah. Chesed has in that time despatched sixty-six tonnes of clothing, including 3,400 blankets purchased at below normal factory price, along with 3,950 second hand blankets and hand crafted rugs for distribution through seventy WIZO outlets in Israel to children and families in distress. This contribution is equivalent to twelve full twenty feet (six metres) long containers totalling 330 cubic metres.
The $115,000 donated has landed more than a million dollars value of top class used clothing in Israel for the returning and impoverished Jewish youth.
Celebrating a Joyous Jubilee of Jewish
Stirred by the fulfilling of many Bible prophecies, ecclesias continued with annual or more frequent collections for Youth Aliyah work and conducted “Israel Days” or “Israel Evenings”. Ecclesias also convened Youth Aliyah Appeals, often with distinguished Israeli or Jewish community guest speakers. Above all, countless personal and special ecclesial prayers for Jewry have ascended to God.
Many families regularly place their small change in the well-known JNF “blue boxes” or various “piggy banks”. During the first thirty five years, Brother Lindsay Colquhoun himself marshalled more than $130,000 to help rescue Jewish youth.
Over the last two decades well over $300,000 has been contributed to the Youth Aliyah Trust by individual donors and ecclesial collections. Other amounts have been sent direct to the Australian Friends of Youth Aliyah Committee within the Jewish community. A milestone of half a million dollars for Youth Aliyah has now been passed and the needs are as great as ever, because there is a continuing flooding in of twenty thousand or more Jewish children and youngsters every year. There is also an increasing need to assist numbers of disadvantaged Israeli youth and families in poverty.
Our commitment to bless whom God will bless, needs to be not based on popularity or antipathy regarding Israel in the world, but upon our firm belief in the Hope of Israel.
Let us encourage each other in our continuing commitment to assist the divinely chosen covenant nation and keep the remembrance of Israel before the eyes of our community in activities, prayer and practical contributions.