Faces of the Ukrainian Aliyah: Profiles of Ukrainian Jewish Refugees in Israel

Stukalo family; photo courtesy Jewish Agency RSJ unit

By Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt special to eJP Young, successful, hopeful - the Stukalo family of Donetsk, Ukraine had everything that one could ask for. Ilya (28) was working as a surgeon, Anzhelika (36) as a neurologist - and their little Veronika had just turned 3 this year. Two apartments, two cars, a nanny, daycare, weekend trips to the country. As active members of the local Jewish community, the Stukalos joined the local Jewish Agency office often for holiday celebrations and events; Ilya had traveled to Israel on Taglit-Birthright with The Jewish Agency as well. For a while, the family had considered making Aliyah to Israel, but didn’t plan to move in the near future, hoping to take the time to prepare for a stable future in another country and to study Hebrew in time. But with … [Read more...]

Far From Home and Far From Alone: New Lone Soldiers Join Tzofim Garin Tzabar Program

New Garin Tzabar participants adopted by Kibbutz Maoz Chaim. (Left to Right) Valeria Hidalgo, Rom Lerner, Daniella Rafel, Yona Lazar and Gitai Gazala.

Winter’s cohort of young, selfless and fresh-faced heroes have arrived to Israel. The last week of 2014 saw 68 new lone soldiers from all over the world - spanning widely from the USA, France, Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, UK, Belgium, Spain, Finland and Kenya - warmly welcomed to Israel in a special ceremony, which took place in Tel Aviv. This group follows their predecessors of the summer 2014 session, in which 350 Olim Chadashim from around the world joined ranks. The Olim Chadashim (new immigrants) will be joining the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) as part of the Tzofim (Israel Scouts) unique program for lone soldiers, Garin Tzabar - the largest immigrant program in Israel for serving in the IDF, with more than 2,500 Garin Tzabar soldiers since its inception 23 years ago. Lone … [Read more...]

Aliyah Hits Ten-Year High

More than half of the immigrants who came to Israel in 2014 were under the age of 35, including some 5,300 children and some 8,200 young adults between the ages of 18 and 34. According to end-of-year figures released today by The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, Aliyah hit a ten-year high in 2014, with the arrival of some 26,500 new immigrants.* This marks a significant 32% increase over last year's number of approximately 20,000 immigrants. For the first time ever, France tops the list of countries of origin for immigrants to Israel, with nearly 7,000 new immigrants in 2014, double the 3,400 who came last year. Additionally, some 5,840 new immigrants have come from Ukraine, compared to some 2,020 in 2013. This dramatic 190% increase is due … [Read more...]

In Tbilisi, Georgia, a Celebration of 25 Years of Aliyah

photo by Nathan Roie

Tbilisi, Georgia recently celebrated the anniversary of the first aliyah, called the "great aliyah," 25 years ago from the Soviet Union. Various celebratory events will be continued in Israel during 2015 organized by the Israel-Georgia Chamber of Business and supported by both the Knesset and Georgian government. According to Itsik Moshe, the first Jewish Agency director in Georgia, the aliyah heralded the beginning of relationships between Georgia and Israel and Georgia and world Jewry, still ongoing today. … [Read more...]

IFCJ Ups The Aliyah Game

poker

The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship) will dramatically increase its efforts to bring more olim to Israel from the Former Soviet Union and countries in crisis across the world. The project will be led by former Director General of Aliyah and Absorption at The Jewish Agency, Eli Cohen, who will join The Fellowship as Vice President for Immigration and Absorption. Cohen served in a series of senior positions at The Jewish Agency and the World Zionist Organization and is finishing his term as Deputy CEO of Mekorot, Israel's National Water Carrier. Cohen will initially be tasked to build a strategic plan for aliyah and absorption. … [Read more...]

Fear in a Library, then Aliyah to Israel

photo by Nathan Roie

The Balaban family of Gorlovka, Ukraine, fled their home after Olga's workplace was shelled. Now adjusting to their new home in Haifa, they look back at the home they left, and forward to the lives they hope to build here. By Nathan Roie Olga Balaban, 56, had just 10 months to go until she could retire from her job as a librarian at the medical school in her hometown of Gorlovka, in Eastern Ukraine, where she had lived her entire life. Other than the fact that her husband suffers from a disability that complicates his daily life, things were good: she was surrounded by books, her son Andrei, 25, was working successfully as a computer programmer, and her older son, Roman, lived in Israel with his wife and two daughters. Olga was content. She, her husband, and Andrei were thinking … [Read more...]

As the School Year Begins in Ukraine, Memories of A Summer in Israel Linger

ZMAN.IL 2014

By Avital Chizhik special to eJP With the arrival of a breezy autumn in Kharkov, students have begun a new school year amidst continuous tension. With the 5-month-old conflict’s death toll reaching 3,000 according to UN reports, and talks of a ceasefire, most Ukrainian high school students are returning from summers rife with anxiety and fear. But for dozens of Jewish youngsters, this summer was a rare breath of fresh air - having spent their summer in Israel. This past summer, 40 young Jews from war-torn Ukraine found necessary, if not ironic, respite in a quiet kibbutz in southern Israel - despite the conflict raging on the Gaza border. Flown to Israel for relief from Ukraine’s most dangerous regions, including Donetsk, these students were participants of ZMAN.IL, a special Jewish … [Read more...]

100 North American Olim Children Land in Israel

Ilana Barta, 23, from Teaneck, NJ, came to Israel to marry her fiance next month. Ilana has not heard from her fiance, a  Paratrooper who is currently on active duty in Gaza, since the ground operation began.

Jerusalem, July 22, 2014 - Despite the tense security situation in Israel, 228 new Olim, including 100 children, from the United States and Canada arrived at Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion Airport today as new citizens, on a Nefesh B’Nefesh Aliyah charter flight, in collaboration with the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, The Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael and JNF-USA. The children included 39 girls and 61 boys. Altogether, 29 families and 54 singles joined the landmark flight, which included Olim planning to live in Israel’s south and north, as part of a joint project to settle Olim in the Negev and the Galilee. Those who are planning to live in the south also received special briefings about the security situation, such as information about trauma counseling and support … [Read more...]