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AMID RISING TENSIONS IN UKRAINE, MORE JEWS SEEKING TO MOVE TO ISRAEL

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The Fellowship, which has brought more than 3,200 Jews to Israel, has received 1,700 new inquiries the past month from Ukraine Jews about making aliyah, expects demand to grow if strife continues

KIEV, Ukraine, August 14 – The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship), which has helped thousands of Ukraine Jews immigrate to Israel, was flooded with hundreds of phone calls and emails in the past two weeks from Ukraine Jews seeking to immigrate to Israel -- and expects the demand to grow amid escalating tensions in the country.

In total, The Fellowship has received more than 1,700 inquiries about aliyah (immigration to Israel) in the past month in Ukraine, where The Fellowship also provides one of the world's poorest Jewish communities with life-saving assistance such as food and medicine.

With the Ukraine situation increasingly unstable, The Fellowship’s office in Kiev has opened six phone lines that are constantly busy, fielding 720 calls in the past month, while staff has received more than 1,000 emails about aliyah. There are an estimated 260,000 Jews still living in Ukraine, and The Fellowship says there are about 5,000 Jews in the disputed Donbass region who are eligible to make aliyah.

Since December 2014, The Fellowship has led a major immigration effort that has brought more than 3,280 Jews on 27 flights from Ukraine to Israel. Ukrainian-Jewish aliyah has become a major part of the Fellowship’s global aliyah initiative enabling Jews facing economic and security threats to move to Israel. In recent months, The Fellowship has helped nearly 4,000 Jews make aliyah, not only from Ukraine but from other countries where Jews face economic and security challenges including Bolivia, Brazil, France, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Turkey and other countries.

Because of military checkpoints and attacks, many poor Ukraine Jews in the cities of Donetsk and Lughansk in the Donbass region remain unable to reach Ukraine to collect their already meager monthly state pension of some $40. Tensions have been rising between Ukraine forces and separatists in eastern Ukraine and Crimea since July, and the Jewish community is caught in the middle.

The Fellowship reports that separatists have been shelling the disputed eastern province of Donbass, with scores of attacks over the past several days.

“The plight of the Jewish people in Ukraine is deteriorating,” said Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, President and Founder of The Fellowship. “Our support for them will mean the difference between life and death, whether we’re providing critical aid such as food and medicine or helping those who wish to immigrate to Israel.”

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