TEL AVIV (Jan. 6)
A ship carrying 387 immigrants from the republics that formally constituted the Soviet Union arrived Monday in the port of Haifa.
It was the second shipload of immigrants to arrive in Israel in two weeks and served as another reminder of the days of the Jewish state’s first immigrants, who made the journey by sea.
Just as on Dec. 26, olim disembarked from the Greek passenger liner. Mediterranean Sky, which has been chartered by a British Evangelical group that believes the return of the Jewish people to their ancestral homeland will speed the coming of the Messiah.
The group is expected to bring a third shipload of immigrants here soon.
Eliahu Ben-Haim, an Israeli consultant to the British Ebenezer Evangelical Society, said the group has chosen to bring immigrants by ship because of a verse in Isaiah (60:9), which reads: “Surely the isles shall wait for Me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from afar, their silver and gold with them.”
Ben-Haim pointed out that sea passage enables the immigration of people who are unable to fly because of certain ailments.
The organization signed an agreement that it would refrain from any missionary activity among the passengers before, during or after the ship sets sail. The group also allowed rabbis to sail with the passengers, to ensure they be fed strictly kosher food.
The second group of seaborne olim was smaller than the first. Ten days earlier, 447 olim arrived. Both times, the ship left port in the Ukrainian city of Odessa, on the Black Sea.
Monday’s arrivals seemed more satisfied than those who came on the first voyage, who made their crossing during a storm. Their arrangements and baggage, too, seemed better in this second crossing.
The ship is not returning empty, according to Jack Padwa, one of two Israeli businessmen involved in the venture. The Mediterranean Sky will return to Odessa with 15 former immigrants and several dozen tourists.