Ukrainian Jewish refugees  prepare to fly to Israel via Moldova
Ukrainian Jewish refugees  prepare to fly to Israel via MoldovaNati Shohat/Flash90

In anticipation of a massive wave of Aliyah (immigration to Israel) from Ukraine, The Jewish Agency for Israel has launched its ‘Aliyah Express’ program, which will expedite the immigration process resulting in thousands of Ukrainian olim (immigrants) arriving in Israel per week.

Since the outbreak of the war at the end of February, 4,000 Jewish Ukrainian refugees have made Aliyah to Israel. That number is expected to dramatically increase, especially as the situation worsens. As such, the Aliyah Express program will expedite the Aliyah process on the ground, significantly reducing the timeline for Aliyah eligibility checks, and with assistance from the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ), private donors and foundations, olim will board flights to Israel faster.

The Jewish Agency will also assist in absorbing immigrants when they arrive in Israel. Dozens of employees are being recruited to assist the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration with housing olim in hotels upon their arrival, as well as working with an emergency program that will enroll young Ukrainians in Masa, a program co-founded by The Jewish Agency.

Following a request from the Israeli government, The Jewish Agency will impart its wealth of knowledge rescuing Jews in distress and its infrastructure in the field to help the Government of Israel establish a situation room to coordinate among the organizations working on the ground in the region, enabling a more streamlined and efficient process.

“The Jewish Agency continues to be at the forefront of Aliyah mobilization efforts, in particular when it comes to Ukrainian refugees,” said Yaakov Hagoel, acting chairman of The Jewish Agency and chairman of the World Zionist Organization. “Combining our organization’s forces with other formidable bodies that facilitate Aliyah will help resolve this emergency crisis facing Ukrainian Jewry. Now, they can be rescued and absorbed much faster so they can settle into their new home in Israel.”

At the onset of the Russian invasion, The Jewish Agency sprung into action and mobilized humanitarian and rescue operations in Poland, Romania, Hungary and Moldova. These facilities have housed over 8,000 refugees thus far. There are currently 4,500 refugees at Jewish Agency facilities who will soon make their way to Israel. The Jewish Agency has rented over 7,000 beds in these facilities along the border for those fleeing the war, a number the organization is planning to increase by opening additional facilities in Romania, as well as renting a stadium in Bulgaria.

“Seeing the Jewish world come together the way it has on behalf of Ukrainian Jewry is truly amazing. Our operations are made possible by donations of tens of millions of dollars from the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), Keren Hayesod, and friends of Israel from around the world,” said Amira Ahronoviz, CEO and director general of The Jewish Agency.

“The Jewish Agency continues to be committed to rescuing every Jew from anywhere in the world and in addition to our work in Ukraine, we’re also implementing the government’s decision to resume Operation Tzur Israel, which will soon bring 3,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel. As such, we’ve expanded our operations in Ethiopia and are preparing for their arrival in absorption centers across the country. Rescuing Jews of Ukraine and Ethiopia are part of the moral duty and mission of our organization.”