Yana grew up in Lugansk, Ukraine, which has become one of the most dangerous places in the world these past few years. She’s an accountant. Her husband, Sergei, was the head of production in a coal company but retired because of health problems.
“Ukraine has become impossible to live in,” she says. “There is constant shelling, constant risk, and no confidence in the future. Everything you have can be taken in a moment. One day people came into the factory where my husband worked and simply stole all the machines; might makes right. And the rise in prices has made it impossible to live.”
Earlier this year they moved from Lugansk to the Ukrainian town of Zaparozhye. The Jewish community there, helped by our Federation-supported agencies, gave them financial assistance and invited them to events and holidays. The couple started thinking about making Aliyah and having a safer life for themselves, their daughter Xenia, 8, and their son Misha, 5.
“At first we thought it would be unrealistic, but The Jewish Agency told us about their absorption programs and our options, and explained to us in detail what we should do. It made us feel confident that it was realistic after all. It took us just a month to gather our paperwork. The consul asked us how soon we can be ready to go, and we said ‘tomorrow!’ Less than a week later, we were already on the plane.”
If you support Federation through our Annual Campaign, you helped Yana and her family move to safety. You helped them with financial support and Jewish community events when they needed you the most. You helped pay for their ticket “home” to Israel.
Yana and Sergei chose to move to Karmiel because they like the climate in the north. They came with only clothing, since they’d left pretty much everything behind in Lugansk. So our Federation-supported partner, The Jewish Agency for Israel, gave them a place in an absorption center. Their coordinator helped them look for an apartment, open a bank account, sign up the kids for school, and look for an ulpan to learn Hebrew.
You helped support them through all the obstacles that make new immigrants’ lives intimidating and overwhelming.
What a challenge this last year has been for them. Can you imagine leaving a war zone, becoming internally-displaced refugees, and then moving to a new country and learning a new language?
In the first six months of this year, the total number of olim (immigrants to Israel) who arrived through Federation’s partner The Jewish Agency is 17,230 — 26 percent more than during the same period last year. From Ukraine there was 53 percent growth, with more than 4,000 people arriving.
There will be more this fall and winter. Think about the crises, the battles, and the worsening economic situation. The lack of certainty about the future.
How privileged we are to live in a time when we can help meet that need.
“Our son is under stress and is scared to be separated from me when he goes to kindergarten. But our daughter is very sociable at school. Every evening in the absorption center, all the children gather together to do their homework,” Yana says. “We do not fully understand how things work here in Israel, but we’re optimistic. At the moment it’s complicated and hard, but we believe that everything will be fine.”
For all those who care, for all those who build, and for all those who save: on behalf of Yana, Sergei, and their children Xenia and Misha – thank you.
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