CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - The gathering of the Jewish people to their ancient homeland, which has been going on for nearly a century, got an unexpected boost this past week with Russia's military blitz of the Republic of Georgia.
The Russian offensive convinced 60 Jewish Georgians, perhaps the first of many more, that it was time to make aliyah (immigrate to Israel).
Among the group is the Dovershvili family, evacuated by the Jewish Agency from their homes in the heavily bombed city of Gori, to Tbilisi, Georgia's capital.
Nana Dovershvili, who stayed with her parents during the evacuation, spoke with the Israeli daily Haaretz by phone from Tbilisi, Monday.
"The Georgians are a wonderful people. We are thankful to this country and never intended to leave it," she said.
"[But] we've decided to move to Israel, despite our love of Georgia, we realized our time has come," she said.
"Maybe we will even return sometime, but now we have made a decision to come to Israel," she said, adding that they were waiting to hear from her brother-in-law, who left Tblisi to bring his wife and children from Borjomi.
"Then we will all come to Israel," she said.
Meanwhile on Monday, newly appointed Immigrant Absorption Minister Eli Afalo called an emergency meeting to discuss concrete measures to expedite the Georgian aliyah.
Joining Afalo at the meeting were Jewish Agency chairman Ze'ev Bielski, Georgian immigrant association head Aharon Alashvili, and deputy director general of the Foreign Ministry's Diaspora Jewry affairs Shmuel Ben-Shmuel, along with other government officials.
The group discussed an expanded aid package to meet the special needs of families, fleeing under emergency conditions, to reestablish their lives in Israel.
Zvi Avisar, Afalo's spokesman, said the government is busy preparing for the first families, expected to arrive within the next two weeks, with others following over the next couple of months.
"The tension will remain," Avisar said, "and in another month we are expecting a second wave [of immigrants], a bit more organized," he said.
Among the many challenges of aliyah is allowing sufficient time to learn to read, write and speak Hebrew.
Children need special support as they study the language, meet new friends and adjust to the Israeli school system.
Adults often need retraining to adapt to the Israeli job market and most families need help finding a suitable and affordable place to live.
While life in Israel has its challenges, most would agree that facing those challenges in the one country Jews call home, has built-in advantages as well.
According to Jewish Agency statistics, some 12,000 Jews live in Georgia.
After Russia's military offensive, many, if not all, could become part of the fulfillment of biblical prophecy -- to bring back the Jewish people from the four corners of the earth to the land God gave them.
Sources: Haaretz, The Jerusalem Post, YNet news