Seventy years after the historic November 29 UN vote to partition Palestine that led to the creation of a Jewish state, 201 new immigrants from Ukraine arrived in Tel Aviv, on a chartered “Freedom Flight” of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ).
The olim (immigrants to Israel) who come from 30 cities across Ukraine including Kiev, Mykolaiv and Dnipro, all wore special t-shirts emblazoned with the flags of the nations that cast their votes in favor of a Jewish state.
“November 29 was the landmark event that preceded the founding of the State of Israel and opened her doors to enable the return of thousands of Jews to their homeland,” said The IFCJ’s Founder and President, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein.
“I can’t think of a better way to celebrate this day than with the arrival of 201 new immigrants. Simultaneously, we must express our gratitude to the countries that voted in favor of a home for the Jewish people. Already 70 years ago, we had friends in the world; and today there are hundreds of millions of non-Jewish supporters who say every day, ‘yes’ to Israel!”
The immigrants are the latest group to arrive in Israel with the IFCJ, which has brought 11,270 immigrants from 26 countries since starting its own aliyah (immigration to Israel) program in December 2014. Most of IFCJ’s immigrants hail from Jewish communities facing rising anti-Semitism, terrorism or economic threats, including 4,745 from Ukraine. The IFCJ expects to bring 5,000 total to Israel during 2017.
The IFCJ is growing increasingly active in aliyah (immigration to Israel), and serves in many of the countries it works with as the main force bringing Jews to Israel. IFCJ operates in Azerbaijan; Belgium; Brazil; Belarus; France; Georgia; Latvia; Moldova; Russia; Spain; Uruguay; Venezuela; and other countries that cannot be made public due to security concerns.
Initially, the IFCJ partnered with other organizations, including the Jewish Agency and Nefesh B’Nefesh.
Like all those who make aliyah with the IFCJ, the latest Ukrainian arrivals participated in a pre-flight, three-day seminar to prepare them for life in Israel. During the course, the participants learned about the history of Zionism and the deep significance of this date.
The immigrants include 43 children, 24 of whom are under the age of 10. The eldest immigrant is an 81-and-a-half-year-old man. The immigrants will settle in a variety of towns and cities ranging from the north to the south of the country. The most popular destination is Haifa, with 47 immigrants planning to settle there, while 22 will live in Nahariya, in the western Galilee. 15 of the immigrants will settle in Bat Yam, south of Tel Aviv, and 10 in the Red Sea southern port city of Eilat.