As the war continues in Ukraine, many more Jews want to return home to the Holy Land, hoping to find peace and financial security. Thankfully, The Fellowship continues to bring these Ukrainian Jews home on our Freedom Flights. In the following story, one family thanks The Fellowship for reuniting them with their family members in Israel and for all of the financial and informational support provided. They feel especially grateful for the seminars we host that explain the benefits and job opportunities for new immigrants once they arrive in the Holy Land.
"The War Isn't too Horrible – Until You Face It"
Two days after the hostilities started, Yevhen, 34, left the war zone of Lugansk, Ukraine, with his wife Valeria, 36, and their son Maksym, 10. “Unknown armed men occupied administrative buildings and proclaimed themselves the ‘Lugansk People's Republic,’” says Yevhen. "By that time, I already knew there was no hope in Lugansk. I took a job offer in the neighboring region of Zaporizhia.”
"By the time I left, there were already battles taking place in Slovyansk,” says Yevhen. “It was completely clear that this scenario would repeat in Lugansk. These were armed people making a military coup d'état. It was obvious what would happen.”
The family left Lugansk while Valeria's parents chose to stay. "As far as we're concerned, life had already changed a lot,” says Yevhen. “Food prices increased; we weren’t able to purchase medicine. There was also a lost sense of security. However, older people are still able to live there somehow. They still receive retirement benefits. But there's no longer any place for small enterprises and midsized businesses.
“I had a commerce business in Lugansk,” explains Yevhen. "When the situation turned into what it is now, I couldn’t do business there anymore. I had supply contracts with Kiev, but they were cancelled instantaneously. So I worked as manager at a business in Zaporizhia because I a lot of experience in that field.”
“If We Want to Build a New Life, We Should Do It in a New Country”
Yevhen's parents and sister had already moved to Israel, and he decided to follow them. "We have strong family ties, and my son loves and misses them a lot,” says Yevhen. “My parents are totally happy with living in the Holy Land. They're satisfied with the medical services, the environment, and the fact that people care about each other.
"My mother has been trying to convince me to move to Israel since last winter,” continues Yevhen. At that time, he didn’t want to leave his home behind. However, when the war started in Ukraine, he knew he’d be much happier and safer in Israel. “Finally, we made the decision that if we want to build a new life, we should do it in the Jewish homeland with our relatives,” says Yevhen.
The family is going to live in the same city as the rest of their family. “The first half year I'll learn Hebrew,” says Yevhen. “However, my future plan is to do what I do the best – either develop my own business or work for a trade company.”
“Some people think the war isn't that horrible,” says Yevhen. "But, one day, I was driving in my car and there was shelling in the field I was passing. There was a bottleneck; I was stuck. I couldn’t move backward or forward. It was scary. Unfortunately, people quickly get used to it. Nevertheless, the real problem, in my opinion, isn't the security situation. The true problem is the economy. In Ukraine, there isn't any economy. Consequently, there's no personal growth.”
“I Look Forward to Connecting to Our Jewish Roots”
Yevhen says he didn’t follow Jewish traditions in Ukraine. "My entire life was consumed by work,” he says. "After living through a war, though, I've decided to redefine all aspects of life. I hope in Israel I'll start to find out about who I am and what my family heritage is. Hopefully, I'll connect to our Jewish roots.”
Yevhen found out about The Fellowship from his parents, who came to Israel last year on a Freedom Flight. She explained that The Fellowship hosts informational seminars before new immigrants fly to Israel. These seminars explain what the Israeli culture is like and the different job opportunities available in Israel.
"My mother told me that I must come to Israel with The Fellowship,” he says. "She told me about all the help and benefits they provide. I really enjoyed the seminar we had before the flight. It was invaluable because there was a lot of information you can’t find on the Internet. The most interesting topic for me was taxation and business building in Israel. I really appreciate all the work The Fellowship is doing to help Jews come home to Israel.”
The family cannot wait to begin their new lives in the Holy Land – and it’s all thanks to The Fellowship’s generous supporters! The family feels very blessed. And they know that many Christians and Jews around the world want to stand with Israel and return all the Jewish families wishing to make aliyah (immigrate to Israel) from war-torn Ukraine to the Jewish homeland.