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March 30, 2020 8:07 am

200 Israelis and 74 Foreign Nationals Arrive Home From Abroad Due to Pandemic

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Israelis arrive at Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv from South America, where they were temporarily stranded as a result of the coronavirus epidemic, on March 20, 2020. Photo: Tomer Neuberg/Flash90. – A special flight with 200 Israelis who were stranded in Hungary departed on Thursday from the Hungarian capital of Budapest and arrived back to Israel. The Israelis had been unable to leave Hungary since the country has closed its borders, responding to the ever-increasing coronavirus pandemic.

Taking initiative in making the necessary arrangements for the flight were members of the Chabad-affiliated EMIH Hungarian-Jewish Association, which is led by Rabbi Shlomo Koves. EMIH also coordinated with the Israeli airline, Arkia, as well as the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The flight was primarily intended for Israelis studying in Budapest, workers at a kosher slaughterhouse who travel from Israel to Hungary on a routine basis to provide kosher meat, and the families of Israeli businessmen living and working in Hungary.

The flight’s organizers from the EMIH community also arranged for 74 foreign nationals stranded in Israel to return home on the same plane dispatched to Budapest as the Israelis. EMIH made the necessary preparations in this regard after the community received requests from the foreign ministries of Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Croatia, all of whom wanted to ensure the safe return of their respective citizens.

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On the plane back, passengers also got a pre-taste of the Passover holiday in the form of boxes of round, handmade shmurah matzah.

Rabbi Shlomo Koves, chief rabbi of EMIH, said: “Due to the extraordinary collaboration on the international level, we are not only helping many Israelis return home to celebrate Passover. We are also extending a hand to foreign nationals of Hungary and several neighboring countries, and bringing them home as well.”

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