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Ukrainian Jews Immigrate to Israel against the Backdrop of Precarious Situation at Home

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The tension in Ukraine is leading Israel to push its citizens there to leave the country and some Ukrainian Jews are also taking the step of making Israel their home.

Seventy-five Ukrainian Jews were on a SkyUp Ukrainian flight that landed at Ben Gurion airport on Sunday morning (and another 22 arrived that night) making Aliyah or immigrating to Israel. 

Israel’s Minister of Aliyah and Integration Pnina Tamano-Shata welcomed the first group of newcomers.

“Our message is very clear for the Jews of Ukraine. The State of Israel will always be open for them, for whoever chooses to come here — to embrace them, to accompany them. And certainly, all of us are praying that the tension won’t prevail, and a war won’t break out between Russia and Ukraine,” Tamano-Shata told CBN News.

The newcomers were sponsored by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ), part of their regular help to bring new immigrants to Israel. But given the precarious situation in Ukraine, it’s expected many more Jews will make their way to Israel.  

“Israel was created to be a safe haven for the Jewish people,” said Yael Eckstein, CEO of the IFCJ.  “During times of peace, during times of war, no matter what happens, we are prepared to bring the Jewish people home.”

The organization has helped Jews return to Israel for years.

“This is biblical prophecy coming to fruition. When you read the scriptures, how awesome is it that you don't only see it unfolding before your eyes, but that you're taking part in it. This is all possible,” Eckstein told CBN News.

“Everything, all of these new immigrants coming off the plane in Israel, the fulfillment, not only of their dream, but the dream of the prophets twenty-five hundred years ago is possible because Christians and Jews came together to bring them home,” she said.

Although not a rescue flight, the passengers are glad to be free from an uncertain situation.

“We’re scared because we don’t know what happens. We hope(ed) for our flight. We wait(ed) and we (were) waiting for our flight. We are very happy that we are now in Israel,” one Ukrainian Jewish woman said. 

Three generations of the Zelensky family made the trip. 

“We had a business in Donetsk and the first time (Russian separatists) they bombed all the business and now we are afraid that again the situation will cause us to lose everything again,” said one member of the family. “The situation is dangerous and that is the reason why we decided to immigrate now.”   

Rev. Johnnie Moore, president of the Congress of Christian Leaders, said he’s seen many of these flights come in, but this time was different. He said as a parent, he was happy to see freedom for these children.

“It’s an unbelievable experience,” Moore told CBN News.

“I just put myself in their shoes, you know, the opportunity to be able to go someplace and that's what the state of Israel is for the Jewish people all around the world — if they need to, should they choose to whatever their reasons,” Moore said.

“And I'm so proud that the Christian community for a full generation has decided to take personal responsibility to bless the people of Israel in this very, very, very practical way,” he added.

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About The Author

Julie Stahl

Julie Stahl is a correspondent for CBN News in the Middle East. A Hebrew speaker, she has been covering news in Israel fulltime for more than 20 years. Julie’s life as a journalist has been intertwined with CBN – first as a graduate student in Journalism; then as a journalist with Middle East Television (METV) when it was owned by CBN from 1989-91; and now with the Middle East Bureau of CBN News in Jerusalem since 2009. As a correspondent for CBN News, Julie has covered Israel’s wars with Gaza, rocket attacks on Israeli communities, stories on the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and