JERUSALEM—Approximately 250 olim (immigrants) from Ukraine arrived in Israel over Monday and Tuesday on flights chartered for new immigrants by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (Keren L’Yedidut).
The flights were the final ones for new olim in 2018.
Over the past year, The Fellowship succeeded in bringing 4,800 olim to Israel, almost 25% of the overall number of olim who moved to Israel in 2018. The olim who were helped by The Fellowship comprised of new immigrants who came from 29 countries around the globe including Morocco, Moldavia, France and Brazil.
“This last year, we witnessed a slight decline in the number of immigrants to Israel, but I’m both delighted and proud that the Fellowship’s role in immigration is constantly developing and growing,” said founder and President of The Fellowship, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein. “This is largely thanks to its investment in every immigrant, a project that begins in the pre-aliyah stage and culminates only after its completion and successful acclimation of the immigrant into his or her new country and society.”
The new arrivals from Ukraine included M. and Avia Onesco of Kherson, both of whom served as deputy mayors of their native city. Their daughter made aliyah a year ago after traveling to Israel with Taglit (Birthright). Coupled with the difficult economic situation in Ukraine that has prevented the father from reaping a respectable retirement package, M. and Avia felt compelled to move to Israel. Another major factor that contributed to their decision to make aliyah was the ongoing political turmoil in eastern Ukraine, which has caused the Onesco family to lose contact with their relatives in Donetsk.
Another one of the newest immigrants, Y. Novosad of Odessa, is a professional athlete and twice a billiard champion at the European Championship. He has also held the Ukrainian title for the past fifteen years. When he was visiting Israel last year with his wife and daughter, Novosad was astounded by how much better the quality of life is in Israel relative to Ukraine.
“The educational system, the health system and the way parents relate to their children here is so different and so much better,” he related. “On the spot, we were determined to make Israel our home.”
Rabbi Eckstein stressed that it is critical for Israel to enhance and expand its methods of absorbing new immigrants.
“Immigration to Israel is a blessing that has served as a crucial engine of growth of the Zionist operation for the past century,” he noted. “The State of Israel must develop a strong support system for its immigrants, which is why I call for the appointment of a full-time Minister of Aliyah and Integration as opposed to an acting minister whose majority of talents and energies are directed towards other realms.”
The Fellowship has been active in providing new immigrants from around the world with a strong support system in Israel. For more than 20 years, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews has been helping Jews to make aliyah and has invested more than $200 million in bringing approximately 750,000 olim to Israel. The Fellowship has also been a major contributor to the Jewish Agency and helped to establish the Nefesh B’Nefesh organization.