Ukrainian children to start first grade in Israel

120 new immigrants arrive in Israel from Ukraine, 9 of them start first grade in Israel.

Yedidya Ben-Or ,

The new first graders
The new first graders
International Fellowship of Christians and Jews

One hundred-and-twenty new immigrants from the Ukraine landed on Tuesday in Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport.

Forty of the new immigrants are schoolchildren who will join the Israeli school system. Nine of these children will begin first grade in less than two weeks.

The immigrants arrived on a special flight organized by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ), in preparation for the new school year. They will settle in various cities around Israel, from Nahariya in the north to Ashkelon in the south. Some of the more popular choices include Haifa, Nahariya, Netanyah, Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Jerusalem.

Some of the immigrants, such as the Topichenko family, left embattled areas of the Ukraine.

The Topichenkos - Nadia, her husband, 11-year-old Polina, and 3-year-old Michael - lived in Horlivka, in the Donetsk Oblast. In just under two weeks, Polina will begin school in Carmiel, where her family will be living.

"There were some very difficult times," Nadia said. "We didn't even have water, or gas to cook with. We lived under fire and we were literally scared we would die."

Sara is going into first grade, too. Getting off the plane, her mother said, "We've just arrived in Israel today, and Sara will soon start first grade. We are all very excited and waiting to start the school year." Seven-year-old Galeb said, "I came here to meet new friends. Soon I'll start first grade. I thank everyone who helped us arrive here today."

In 2014, IFCJ began working independently to bring new immigrants to Israel. Since then, IFCJ has brought 7,400 immigrants from 19 different countries, with 4,879 of them from the Ukraine.