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Urgent Aliyah: Israel Prepares for Thousands of Ukrainian Immigrants

03-04-2022
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Photo Credit: The Jewish Agency for Israel
Photo Credit: The Jewish Agency for Israel

Israel is scrambling here and in Europe to pave the way for thousands of Ukrainian Jews to immigrate to Israel.  The first three flights are expected Sunday in Tel Aviv. One of them is bringing 100 Ukrainian Jewish orphans.

The Jewish Agency for Israel is working together with Christians to help Jews trying to escape Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

“We are in touch with different communities and leaders of these communities – rabbis. We [are] helping them organize buses to the border. And then [at] the border, we meet these buses and we help them to cross this border to accommodate them in the neighboring countries,” said Roman Polonsky, Jewish Agency Regional Director for the Former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, and Germany.

Founded in 1929, The Jewish Agency works alongside the government with one of its main missions to bring the Jewish people back to the Land of Israel. Over the years, they have mounted rescue missions to bring Jews home from around the world who are caught in conflict zones.

Ukrainian-born Polonsky says Israel faces a chaotic task.

“This situation in Ukraine is men ages 18 to 60, they cannot leave the country because they are drafted to the army. And it's a great situation when the family could be split and they have to make their choice -- wife with children and with elderly parents can go beyond the border, but men should stay there [in Ukraine],” Polonsky told journalists at a briefing hosted by Media Central in Jerusalem.

Complicating the effort is that many people didn’t bring family documents as they fled, and some don’t have passports, although The Jewish Agency has been able to mitigate some of the challenges. 

“These people come, sometimes with only two bags and with [a] cat or dog in their laps and they need everything. They need clothes. They need medicine. They need food and we are trying to provide them with all our help, including, by the way, also psychological help and [medical] help,” Polonsky said.

Working with the IFCJ, the Agency has established centers near borders in Poland, Romania, Hungary, and Moldova.

“Our good friends [the] Christians all around the world who help us [from] different organizations,” Polonsky said. “They help us both financially, but also they have their people in the field in Ukraine and in other countries and we, rely on this chain of support as well.”

Author Tom Hess is most concerned about those not returning to Israel.

“There's 200,000 Jews there. I believe that God has shown that the destiny for the Jewish people is back in Israel. And there are 700 scriptures [calling them home],” Hess told CBN News.

In his well-known book, “Let My People Go”, Hess issues a clarion call to Jews and Christians alike about the importance of Jewish people returning home.

“So, it's very, very important as God says, the destiny of the Jewish people is back in Israel in the last days. Half the Jews in the world are already [in Israel]. But He says, He's going to bring them all back, not leaving any behind,” Hess said.

Given the rush right now to rescue those in Ukraine, much work and uncertainly lie ahead.

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