250 new olim from Ukraine arrive in Israel, new Jewish community center inaugurated in Kiev
250 olim or immigrants from Ukraine arrived this week in Israel as part of a renewed wave after the respite of flights due to the Jewish holidays. Several of the newest arrivals, helped out by by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ), come from war-torn part of Ukraine,spoke of the difficult conditions from which they fled.
“I have never been to Israel before but I am confident that this is the best place for my family and me now,” said Maria Shkred, from Donetsk, a city hit hard by the war in Donbass, which broke out in 2014. “We lived in fear, I was depressed during this time period more than once, and my son developed a stutter as a result of these difficult times. I fell in love with Israel before I set foot in it. I love the country and the endless opportunities it may offer me.”
According to Valentina, who is coming on aliyah with her husband and three children, her children's life was saved miraculously a few times during the battles. "Life under a shelter had become a routine during the time we were living in Mariupol. There was fighting at one point that forced us to stay within a shelter for over two months".
"The day to day situation in the Ukraine now is awful and in some mysterious way only getting worse" mentions Olga, who was also on the flight that landed at Tel Aviv Airport. "Throughout the battles as time became stressful my family and I were forced to live on the streets. I am so grateful for this opportunity to come and live in Israel with the help of IFCJ and to establish my home in the land of my ancestors, my historic homeland".
The new olim will all settle in the north and center of Israel.
Additional to the olim from the Ukraine, 50 more olim will be arriving in the next few days from France, mainly from Marseille and Paris. They described the latest anti-Semitism events occurring in Europe and France as the main trigger to bring them to make their decision to make aliyah.
During 2016 over 2,500 olim arrived in Israel with the help of the IFCJ as a joint effort of the fellowship to help the aliyah process in Israel. After arriving in Israel, IFCJ provides the olim with special grants of up to $1,000 for each adult and $500 for each child, in addition to covering the expense of the flights.
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, President of the IFCJ said: "As a part of our engagement with Aliyah we are often exposed to moving stories of Jews from all around the world that have been through numerous troubles and now at last are fulfilling their Zionist dream and coming to live in Israel. We assist thousands of Jews from tens of countries from the Ukraine throughout Brazil to come and live in Israel. We help all olim when integrating in the Israeli society and economy by closely following up and providing financial aid so that we can assure the best possible integration".
The IFCJ also supports Jews still living in Ukraine and other former Soviet Union countries by providing food, medical care, housing and other basic assistance and financing a network of safe children’s homes throughout the area.
The organization does collaborative work on the ground with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the latter having recently opened the Halom Jewish Community Center (JCC) in Kiev which was officially dedicated this week.
The two-month-old 17,000-squarefoot facility located in the center of the Ukrainian capital is the result of efforts by the JDC and Kiev’s Jewish community to provide a multi-generational hub for Jewish cultural, educational, community, social-service programs and activities.
“The dedication of the Halom JCC is yet another step forward in the evolution of Jewish life in Kiev, showcasing the revitalization of Jewish culture, state of the art care for the poorest Jews and the tenacity of Ukrainian Jews to forge on in their community building despite the issues their country faces,” JDC president Stan Rabin and CEO Alan H. Gill said at the inauguration ceremony.