The first Birthright Israel group of Ukrainian Jews since the start of the war reached Israel last night, bringing 24 participants on the organization’s 10-day educational experience in the Jewish state for young Diaspora residents. They arrived on a special flight arranged by Dr. Miriam Adelson, who accompanied them.
Fifteen of the participants had reached Warsaw, from where the Israel-bound flight departed, from Kiev, Odessa, Kharkiv and Dniepro, all cities that have come under Russian attack. The nine other participants had already left Ukraine during the war and live in Germany and Poland. This is the first time that most of the 15 have left Ukraine since the war broke out 11 months ago.
Adelson, Birthright Israel’s largest donor, heard about this special Birthright group and decided to fly on her private jet to Poland from Austin Texas to escort the group to Israel.
The participants will be able to disconnect from the war for a short time thanks to their Birthright tour throughout Israel, from the Golan Heights to the Negev. Some will remain in Israel for a few weeks to participate in Birthright’s follow-up program, Onward Israel.
“Every Birthright group in Israel is a very exciting thing, but this group is extra-special. I met the participants when they landed and realized how much strength and optimism each of them has,” said Gidi Mark, CEO of Birthright Israel. “I know that that their Birthright Israel experience will strengthen each of them and give them the power to persevere during the terrible situation Ukraine is going through.”
“We are grateful to Lynne and Howard Halpern and Andrea and Mike Leven of Boca Raton who support this group and an additional group planned to arrive in March from Ukraine,” said Birthright Israel Foundation’s President & CEO, Izzy Tapoohi. “Birthright Israel Foundation supporters are committed to building connections to Israel and Judaism for all young Jewish adults."