Of the 110 Ukrainian Jews who arrived in Israel on today’s Fellowship Freedom Flight, there are countless stories of tribulation, heartache, and loss. The Jewish Press’ Hana Levi Julian tells of a family who lost a beloved member before making aliyah (immigrating to Israel):
A special refugee rescue flight sponsored by the IFCJ (International Fellowship of Christians and Jews) brought 110 Ukrainian Jews on their aliyah trip home to Israel on Tuesday.
Among the group was the husband of the late Irina Shelkayeba, killed at the beginning of February by a direct hit from a rocket that slammed into her home as she was cooking. The attack on the eastern Ukraine city of Donetsk was launched by pro-Russian separatists.
Irina’s husband and the rest of the family members who came with him on aliyah were met at Ben Gurion International Airport by her niece Liora Nissim. It was Nissim who had also assisted the family with their decision to leave Ukraine and move to Israel.
“I made aliyah myself 17 years ago as part of the Na’ale program, while my family remained in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine,” she explained.
“They lived next to the airport, an area in which the difficult battles were waging. This was continued on and on and they waited all this time for it to finally end. It is hard to leave home, especially when war is raging outside. Then the rocket fell and killed my aunt. The house was ruined. They remained with no property.
“I started aiding them from Israel. I heard the IFCJ is organizing refugee flights and I immediately called. Their representative contacted my broken family that fled under heavy shelling to the city of Dnieper and a month and a half later they were on their way to Israel”.
Tuesday’s flight was the third sponsored by IFCJ since December, totaling 560 Jews rescued from Ukraine alone.