Aliyah Winter Camps in Ukraine

 By: ICEJ Staff Writers

The recent major wave of Aliyah continues into 2023. More than 73,000 Jews immigrated to Israel in 2022, the highest numbers since the years following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1989. The ICEJ continues to assist with flights, airport transfers, Aliyah preparation seminars, and trips to the Israeli consul for visas.

There are also many innovative ways in this amazing ingathering, such as assisting with Aliyah winter camps this January for Ukrainian Jewish youth in the safety of the nearby Baltic states.

There was a jovial atmosphere on the bus as fifty-four youth from Ukraine crossed the border into Poland and continued to Riga, Latvia, to join 21 Ukrainian refugee children living in other East European countries along with 45 Latvian Jewish children.

The youth were excited to stay in a 3-star resort hotel and soon the conference rooms turned into hives of activity as the younger ones started making new friends, embracing their heritage, and learning all they could about making Aliyah from Israeli counsellors.

Aliyah youth camps have been a huge success over the years, and this year definitely was no different!

Isaac, one of the campers from Lviv, expressed his opinion of the camp by showing a big “thumbs up” sign!

Meanwhile, another youth from near Kyiv simply called it, “Super!”

“This is just one tangible example of the critical work for the Jews of Ukraine, made possible thanks to generous friends such as yourselves”, said Danielle Mor of the Jewish Agency, which organised the camp. “May 2023 be marked by such joy and hope.”

This is the second Aliyah youth camp that the ICEJ has recently supported in the Baltic region. The first was in held in Lithuania in September for more than 100 children.

On 18 December, the ICEJ supported a special Hanukkah Day of Israel in Riga and our first sponsored flight from there was on the 19th of December. The first family was brought from a coastal city to the airport by van with extra baggage for the direct flight to Israel.

The Jewish remnant still in the former Soviet Union have many concerns about their safety and future. They risk being conscripted for military service in Russia, while in Ukraine men of draft age are restricted from leaving the country. This has led to the separation of family members, some of whom have gone to Israel and others to East European countries. Currently, we are assisting with the evacuation of frail elderly Jews and helping with youth Aliyah, especially for displaced families throughout the Former Soviet Union as well as with our integration programs and humanitarian help in the Diaspora.

Our Aliyah work first began in Vienna in 1980 and since then we have assisted more than 170,000 Jews coming home to Israel, plus many, many more during their integration process. Thank you for partnering with us in our Aliyah efforts to bring Jews back to their biblical homeland – the Land of Israel. Please support this work by giving at: icej.org.au/donate/

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