David and his brother Jacob were raised by elderly parents in the Ukraine. Their mom died when David was only six years old and their father died shortly after. The brothers were then raised by their grandmother, their only living relative. David recalls his childhood as “very hard.”
When their parents were alive, they told David and Jacob many stories about the Holy Land. Though they had no family in Israel and their grandmother could not afford to send them on a trip there, the brothers kept the faith that they would one day reach Israel.
When David was 16, he received a call from a representative of Naaleh, a project funded by The Fellowship’s On Wings of Eagles program that helps youth from the former Soviet Union make aliyah (immigrate to Israel) and helps them acclimate once they arrive. The Naaleh representative asked David if he and his brother would be interested in going to Israel.
David quickly said yes. “I was excited and nervous at the same time,” David recalls. “On the one hand, I knew my life would change for the better in Israel. But the fact that I was leaving behind my grandma was extremely difficult. She’s the only family I’d known for much of my life.”
To prepare for the trip, David joined a program that teaches Jewish youth the Hebrew language and Jewish heritage. David moved to Israel in the summer of 2009, and his brother Jacob joined him shortly after. The two brothers now live in the same youth village in northern Israel.
David is in 12th grade and is joining a pre-army college program. He plans on using his education to serve in the Israeli army. His brother Jacob is joining the army next year. The brothers speak often with their grandmother, who plans on moving to Israel soon to be with them. The entire family expressed its gratitude to The Fellowship’s On Wings of Eagles partners for making possible their new life in the Holy Land.