Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu welcomed 121 new olim (immigrants) from Ukraine this morning at a special reception ceremony held at the foot of their plane. The olim, who arrived on a special flight organized by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (Keren L’Yedidut), appeared to be filled with excitement at the welcoming ceremony prepared for them, which also included the participation and attendance of Absorption Minister Yoav Gallant and president of The Fellowship, Yael Eckstein.
Netanyahu, who ascended the plane and took time to shake hands and speak with the new olim at the ceremony, said: "I'm especially pleased to see the children who moved to Israel today. These children have a wonderful future here in Israel. Here is your home, and here is your place. I invite you to share with me any details about your absorption process, and if you have any problems, I am here at your service."
Asked about what he had to say about The Fellowship, Netanyahu said: "I think this is great. I think bringing the Jewish People to the Jewish State is a great mitzvah and anybody who does that is doing a great thing for the Jewish future. Thank you."
"It is a great honor today for us to host Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Absorption Minister Yoav Gallant, both of whom are welcoming with us 120 new olim out of the 308 who are expected to land today from Ukraine alone," said Yael Eckstein.
The olim referred to both a deteriorating economic situation and a prevalence of anti-Semitism as two primary factors motivating them to move to Israel. Olga Chinui, a former resident of Kiev who moved to Israel with her husband and son, said: "My son was asked by his teacher to remove the Star of David around his neck." Olga and her family are expected to settle in Katzrin, often referred to as the “capital of the Golan Heights.” Further elaborating, Eckstein said: "We live in a complex reality. On the one hand, manifestations of anti-Semitism are increasing in Europe. On the other hand, as the prophets said, the children (Jews) shall return to their borders and the People of Israel have returned to their homes in Zion.”
Minister Gallant said: "We were thrilled to welcome 121 new olim today from the Ukraine. The absorption of new olim from all over the world in the State of Israel is an important goal in and of itself and is an essential need to fortify the State of Israel and strengthen the Jewish People. From the beginning of the year, the Immigrant Absorption Ministry has absorbed more than 17,000 new olim from all over the world, an increase of 25% compared to last year. This summer, thousands of additional olim from all over the world are expected to arrive. The Immigration and Absorption Ministry is working diligently to provide all the olim with the most necessary tools and services to make for them a quick and comfortable adjustment in their new home.”
The coastal city of Haifa will absorb 24 of the olim, the largest number among the group moving to a single municipality. The age range among the olim spans from a 9-month-old infant to a 78-year-old. Forty of the olim are under the age of 18.
President Eckstein added: “As the olim get off the plane and land safely, we are filled with joy and celebration at the opportunity of bringing new olim to Israel who are included among the more than 19,000 olim that The Fellowship has brought to Israel over the last four years. We share the celebrations of joy with our overseas friends who generously donate to help us continue with this special undertaking."
For more than 20 years, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews has been helping Jews to make aliyah and has invested more than $200 million in bringing approximately 750,000 olim to Israel. The Fellowship has also been a major contributor to the Jewish Agency and helped to establish the Nefesh B'Nefesh organization. In 2014, The Fellowship began operating independently in the field of immigration. Since then, The Fellowship has brought 19,000 olim to Israel from 30 countries around the world. The olim receive comprehensive assistance from The Fellowship including special grants of $500 per adult and $300 per child. The Fellowship also sponsors their flights to Israel and ensures that they receive the absorption basket that they are entitled to under Israeli law. Additionally, The Fellowship works to make sure that the immigrant families are absorbed within their respective municipalities, particularly with regards to housing and employment. Moreover, The Fellowship continues to advise the families even after their absorption process.