ICEJ Sponsors Special Aliyah Seminar for Ukrainian JewsPublished on: 20.3.2023
By: Annaliese Johnson
The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem recently sponsored a special Aliyah seminar for Ukrainian Jews hosted by The Jewish Agency for Israel on the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. More than 100 Ukrainian Jews attended this intensive fast-track program for immigration to Israel, which was held in the western Ukrainian mountains, well away from the ongoing fighting in the East.
In reality, the conflict in Ukraine has been dragging on for nine agonizing years, ever since February 2014 when tensions between Russia and Ukraine first erupted into violence that has continued to devastate the region. As the fighting escalated, innocent civilians found themselves trapped in the chaos, their lives forever altered by the mayhem surrounding them. That fateful year, the ICEJ immediately sprang into action, sponsoring lifesaving, two-day immigration preparation seminars away from the fighting, as well as flights and urgent integration support for refugees coming to Israel for safety. Thanks to your faithful giving and prayers, the unflagging support has continued day after day, week after week, year after year.
The clashes in the East have intensified in scale, scope and intensity since last summer, mercilessly targeting innocent civilians as well as critical energy infrastructure across Ukraine. As of 12 March 2023, over 8,000 civilians have been killed in the conflict. Sometimes the only light piercing the darkness on Shabbat comes from the candles due to attacks and air strikes on power plants and stations. There were five air attacks in October and November which caused major shutdowns, including a blackout across the nation on 23 November 2022 that affected over 12 million Ukrainians.
For Ukraine’s Jewish community, the situation is particularly dire. Jewish families face tremendous challenges, from the destruction of their homes and communities to the constant threat of violence and persecution. The ongoing war and violence have traumatized and terrorized many Ukrainian Jews, especially children, leaving deep psychological and emotional scars that may last a lifetime. However, the support and assistance of organizations like ICEJ and the Jewish Agency offer a beacon of hope in the darkness.
In the midst of this crisis, the Christian Embassy has stepped in to offer assistance to those in need. Recognizing the urgent need to help Ukrainian Jews immigrate safely to Israel, ICEJ began sponsoring lifesaving seminars to guide them on their way. Immigration from Ukraine continues apace at about 100 people per week, after Israel welcomed over 15,000 new immigrants from Ukraine in 2022.
The Jewish Agency’s recent seminar gave Ukrainian Jews a glimmer of hope and a path to safety amid the despair. The fast-track Aliyah program was led by senior JAFI leaders, such as Max Lurye, who was born in Dnipro and has helped rescue thousands of immigrants in the nine long years since the war began. The ICEJ’s unceasing support in this endeavor provides shelter, sustenance, solace and sanctuary in their time of greatest need.
Over these years, the ICEJ’s support has remained steadfast, providing critical relief to those impacted by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. As the fighting intensifies, ICEJ continues helping Jews from Ukraine immigrate to Israel, offering pre-immigration programs, transportation, lodging enroute, flights, and immediate integration assistance. To date, the ICEJ has assisted nearly 4,000 of these Ukrainian Jews in such efforts.
One of the Olim ICEJ helped to escape the war in Ukraine is 76-year-old Rachel Perlmuter who lived in Eastern Ukraine. Her city came under heavy shelling this year, which made it difficult for her to get medical care and the daily insulin she needs to manage her diabetes. With the help of the Jewish Agency and ICEJ she made a long journey to a nearby former Soviet republic where she was able to secure all her travel documents. It took more than a month but finally she was able to fly on an ICEJ-sponsored flight to Israel. All her expenses were covered by the Christian Embassy, and she is now living in an absorption center in Beersheba. Danielle Mor of the Jewish Agency said, “Rachel (Ruchlya) shared that she was born not long after the war. There was always antisemitism around her. Having both a first and last very Jewish names, she suffered greatly, but she never even considered changing her name. She was always proud of being Jewish. Upon getting such assistance in her time of need and being enabled to start a new life in Israel at the age of 76, she says she now knows that this pride truly was justified. Ruchlya’s Aliyah was supported largely by ICEJ.”
Through advocacy, aid and action, the work of the ICEJ and our partners at The Jewish Agency for Israel has had far-reaching impacts, facilitating the safe passage of Ukrainian Jews to Israel and offering support for their successful integration into new communities. Though immense challenges remain, these organizations continue working tirelessly to provide assistance to those in need. Their efforts represent a lifeline of hope for the future, providing comfort and relief for those impacted by violence and war.
Please consider partnering with us to continue providing this lifesaving aid and support to bring the Jews from Ukraine to Israel. Donate today at: give.icej.org/aliyah