Chabad Airlifts More Children From Irradiated Chernobyl Areas

Chabad’s Children of Chernobyl (CCOC) airlifted 16 more Jewish children from irradiated danger zones near Chernobyl to Israel Wednesday.


To mark 21 years since the world’s most devastating nuclear disaster, Chabad’s Children of Chernobyl (CCOC) airlifted 16 Jewish children from the irradiated danger zones in Belarus and Ukraine to Israel on Wednesday.

“We are marking this sad anniversary by taking action,” said CCOC Director Yossie Raichik. “While the world has moved on to the latest headline, radiation from Chernobyl is still wreaking disease and death. The world has forgotten these children. Today, we gave 16 of them a healthy lease on life. We must relentlessly focus attention on their plight. Tomorrow, we must, and we will, continue to alleviate their pain.”

Flight number 77, commemorating the nuclear meltdown, brings to 2,462 the number of children the program has brought to Israel.

CCOC, under the auspices of Chabad Youth Organization, was founded in 1990 in response to appeals to the Lubavitcher Rebbe by Jewish parents living in the contaminated areas who feared for their children’s lives. The children live on special campuses in Kfar Chabad, near Ben Gurion International Airport, where they receive medical care, schooling, and support in a caring environment. Most settle in Israel permanently following the eventual Aliyah (immigration to Israel) of their parents.

Three CCOC graduates, today IDF soldiers, were on hand to greet and dance with the newest arrivals. “I’m grateful to Chabad’s Children of Chernobyl for giving me the opportunity to realize my dream of becoming an electrical engineer and, most important, giving me back my health,” said Levi Wexler, 21, who arrived on Flight 61 in 2002, and whose mother has recently joined him in Israel.

“It is so dangerous where I live that I had to send my three children away,” Irina Halaven told Rabbi Raichik as she reunited with Xenya, 11, Maxim, 10, and Katia, 9, after a six-month separation. “I thank Chabad for bringing me to Israel to visit them. They look great – much healthier than when I saw them last.”