From Captivity in Ukraine to a New Home in Israel

D., a Ukrainian held in captivity by pro-Russian separatists, arrived in Israel on Wednesday with a group of 91 Ukrainian olim.

Yoni Kempinski ,

מקבלים את פני הפליטים מאוקראינה
מקבלים את פני הפליטים מאוקראינה
צילום: יוני קמפינסקי

Over 90 new Ukrainian immigrants traveling on an aliyah flight sponsored by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews [IFCJ] landed in Ben Gurion Airport on Wednesday morning. 

The IFCJ, founded and run by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, not only pays for the immigrants flights to Israel, but also provides them generous subsidies and housing and job assistance. 

"We see the immigration of Ukrainian Jews as having double importance. Bringing them to Israel is both a physical and moral salvation. Therefore, we intend to pursue our efforts until every Jew in Ukraine who wants to immigrate to Israel has done so," Eckstein said. 

Among the new immigrants was D., 68, who last year was kidnapped, interrogated and tortured by Russian separatists before finally being released. Originally from the Donetsk, both D. and his wife arrived in Israel on Wednesday, where they plan to settle in central city Holon. 

Speaking to Arutz Sheva upon arrival, D. noted the viciousness of the war, and stressed his support for Jews who side with the Ukrainians, despite the consequences. 

"My son-in-law is still in prison, just because he supports the Ukrainians. My grandson knows how to identify the different kind of explosions. I feel that this is a very difficult war."

"I never thought my home would be under fire, but now my home is Israel," D. declared. "My nephew serves in the IDF... I want this to be my new homeland."

Describing his harrowing time in captivity, D. noted the fear he felt. "I wasn't in a prison. They kidnapped me at night, put me in a dark room with a bag on my head...they threatened me and put a grenade in my hand.

"They said they would behead me... they threatened me and beat me," he continued. "They didn't know I was Jewish, if they would have known, I would not be here today.

"My physical wounds will heal, but the wounds of my soul will stay for a very long time."