Approximately 250 new immigrants departed from the Ukraine for Israel on Monday and Tuesday, on flights chartered by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. These are the last immigrant flights scheduled for year 2018, raising the total number of Fellowship-sponsored immigrants to 4,800 men, women and children from 29 countries around the globe, including Morocco, Moldavia, France and Brazil. This number comprises close to one-quarter of immigrants to Israel in the year 2018.
Among the new arrivals are M. and Avia Onesco of Kherson, both of whom served as deputy mayors of their native city. Their daughter made aliyah a year ago after traveling to Israel with Birthright Israel-Taglit, and this, coupled with the trying economic situation which bars the father from an honorable retirement, motivated the couple to immigrate to Israel. Another contributing factor in their life-altering decision is the ongoing political turmoil in east Ukraine, which caused the Onesco family to lose touch with their relatives in Donetsk.
Another new immigrant is Y. Novosad of Odessa. Novosad is a professional athlete and billiard champ who twice won the European Championship and has held the Ukrainian title for the past fifteen years. He shares that he visited Israel last year along with his wife and two-year-old daughter and was astounded by the quality of life in Israel that far outstrips that of their native Ukraine. “The educational system, the health system, the way parents relate to their children here is so different, and so much better. On the spot, we determined to make Israel our home.”
“Immigration to Israel is a blessing that has served as a crucial engine of growth of the Zionist operation for the past century, said Fellowship President Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein.
“This last year, we witnessed a slight decline in the number of immigrants to Israel, but I’m both delighted and proud that the Fellowship’s role in immigration is constantly developing and growing. This is largely thanks to its investment into every immigrant, a project that begins in the pre-aliyah stage and culminates only after his complete and successful acclimation to his new country and society. The State of Israel must develop a strong support system for its immigrants, which is why I call for the appointment of a full-time Minister of Aliyah and Integration as opposed to an acting minister whose majority of talents and energies are directed to other realms.”
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews has been active for over twenty years in supporting the immigration of Jews around the world to Israel, investing over 200 million dollars to facilitate the aliyah of some 750,000 immigrants. Throughout many years, the Fellowship was a generous patron of the Jewish Agency and even aided in the founding of Nefesh B’Nefesh.
In 2014, the Fellowship began operating independently in the realm of aliyah, and since then, has brought approximately 16,000 immigrants from 29 countries around the world to Israel.
Immigrants who take advantage of the services offered by the Fellowship enjoy a generous basket of aid that includes special $500 grants per adult immigrant and $300 grants per child beyond free airfare and the standard basket of rights and privileges provided by the Ministry. In addition, the Fellowship also arranges the registration of immigrant families in local municipal offices which escort them through the wearying process of finding housing and employment, and continues offering its support long after the immigrants have settled into their new homes and lives.