Friday, November 28, 2014

Israel: A Dream Come True For Thousands of Jewish Immigrants

Oksana Zolodyev and son, Artur in a potato crate in their basement in Ukraine
After a summer at war and the tragedy of recent attacks on innocent Jews, the news has depicted Israel as a place of constant violence, terror, and conflict. It’s hard to fathom – especially lately – that thousands of Jews from all over the world seek refuge in the land of milk and honey.

Despite all the turmoil, Israel’s absorption centers continue to welcome Jewish immigrants seeking peace, asylum, and the right to practice Judaism. In this busy holiday season, the plight of those in far-away countries can seem out of sight and out of mind, but today, Jews living in the realities of Eastern Ukraine are facing adverse circumstances and a terrible rise in anti-Semitism.

Federation’s mission is to care for all Jews in need, locally, in Israel, and around the world. We are only able to provide this much needed assistance thanks to our on-the-ground partners at The Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) and American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC).

Caryn Farber, Director of the JDC in Australia, reports that there are an estimated 350,000 Jews in war-ravaged Ukraine who are being cared for by local Jewish communities, supported, trained, and inspired by JDC. The same is true for hundreds of thousands across Belarus, Georgia, Russia, and Moldova and for thousands of others from India to Tunisia.

The JDC provides assistance to Jews in need - from transportation documents, to actual travel, cultural and educational immersion programs, basic necessities, job placement, and more. Federation and our partners are there to ensure that their needs are met, and their voices are heard. Together, Federation and JDC help thousands of Jews, every year. One such story is that of the Zolodyev family who found themselves in the epicenter of the crisis in Ukraine.

The Zolodyevs, a Jewish Ukrainian family of four, were living in Lugansk when heavy fighting erupted in the region. Having wanted to move to Israel for years, but unable to immediately sell their apartment, the family sent their 19-year old daughter Aleksandrina to Israel on Selah— a JAFI immigration program— meaning - Students Before Parents. Upon her arrival in Israel, Aleksandrina studied Hebrew, went to school, got involved in her community, and became immersed in Israeli society while she waited for the rest of her family to join her.

Meanwhile, Alexksandria’s parents and younger brother, Artur, were sadly enduring the violence and destruction unfolding in her homeland. The Zolodyevs have harrowing stories of long dark nights hiding their basement; sleeping in cold potato crates; surviving a severe food shortage on barley and onions; and surviving with no electricity and scarce water for more than two months. For weeks, the family had no way to contact their daughter in Israel. Their 16-year-old son was forced to study under the light of a battery-operated lamp, when batteries were available, and was unable to play sports, or spend time with friends.

After deciding it was time to leave, JAFI helped the Zolodyev family reunite in Israel after being separated for a long 18 months. JAFI arranged for the family’s transportation, accommodations, and arranged for Aleksandrina to greet her parents and brother at Ben-Gurion airport. Now, the Zolodyev family temporarily lives in an absorption center in the town of Karmiel, where they are enrolled in an immersive Ulpan program. Artur, is studying at a Federation funded World ORT Technion school, and Aleksandria is preparing to serve in the IDF though a JAFI program.

“It’s a dream for a person from Lugansk to come this place, to Israel. And not everyone is blessed with this opportunity. Only those who have the right to make Aliyah, said Aleksandrina, “This is our home, our one and only home.”

The story of the Zolodyev family is just one example of several thousand that depicts how Federation cares for all Jews in need.

All of this is possible thanks to you generosity. This thanksgiving we are thankful for you and your support. 

Together, we do extraordinary things.

To read the family’s full story and to learn more about the work of JAFI, click here.

To learn more about JDC visit their website.


Post a Comment