Ukrainian ‘Olim’ Land in Israel on International Holocaust Remembrance Day
JNS.org – A total of 184 new immigrants (olim) making aliyah from Ukraine via the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews landed in Israel on six separate flights on Jan. 27, International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Many noted that antisemitism was a factor in their decision to make the move.
According to a report on antisemitism by the Israel’s Diaspora Ministry published on Monday, the same day as the flight, Ukraine was one country in the former Soviet Union that had actually seen a decline in the number of antisemitic incidents overall.
Nevertheless, such sentiment is still far from being eradicated. In fact, the Eastern European nation saw an increase in the use of antisemitic rhetoric during the second half of 2019.
Alexander Shopotinsky, 38, said “the situation has become very difficult—one of the worst in Europe as a whole.”
He said that for his family, moving from the city of Kryvyi Rih to Israel was a decision he and his wife, Victoria, 35, made for their two children—Sergey, 13, and Elizabetha, 7—without reservation.
“I have always been proud of my Judaism. Despite the mocking and scorn I received from every angle, I did not change my family name,” he related. “They would harass me and call me various insults attacking my Jewish identity. These challenges made it clear that there was no way we would allow our children to grow up with similar, unfortunate experiences. It was therefore critical for us to bring our family to Israel, where our children can live openly as Jews and be proud of their Judaism.”
The Shopotinskys plan to settle in Haifa.
The Fellowship said “we are delighted to start the year by already helping dozens of olim from around the world move to Israel. Unfortunately, antisemitism is still lifting its head in many parts of the world. On this symbolic day, it is important to take note of how great it is that the Jewish people have a home where Jews can live with pride and without fear.”
Of the 184 former Ukrainians that landed on Monday, 31 are children under 18, with the youngest being a year-old baby. The oldest is an 83-year-old Holocaust survivor.
Haifa is absorbing 20 new immigrants, followed by Netanya with 16, Nahariya with 14, Bat Yam and Acre each receiving 12, with Rishon Letzion and Kiryat Yam resettling 11 olim.
The Fellowship has also been a major contributor to the Jewish Agency for Israel and helped establish the Nefesh B’Nefesh organization. In 2014, the Fellowship began operating independently in the field of immigration. Since then, it has brought more 20,500 olim to Israel from 30 countries around the world.