"Our reason for making aliyah [immigrating to Israel] was very simple: We wanted to be with our family," says Liudmyla, who was on one of The Fellowship’s first Freedom Flights from Ukraine along with her husband, as well as their son, daughter-in-law, and three grandchildren.
"Still, we missed Ukraine for the first few months," says Liudmyla’s husband, Volodymyr. “It was where we were born and it's a beautiful country. But now that we've been in Israel for almost a year, we know, without a doubt, we made the right decision."
Liudmyla, who had been a professor of physics in Ukraine, explains exactly what happened to make the couple understand that Israel is where they needed to be." In June, Volodymyr went for a routine visit to a cardiologist. He felt some pressure in his upper chest, but he didn't think it was anything serious.” The doctor sent him for an EKG, and the results showed that he had a congenital heart problem and a clogged artery.
“They immediately scheduled him for surgery to replace one of the heart valves. That never would have happened in Ukraine. If you don't have connections, you don't get decent medical care, not to mention open-heart surgery. Volodymyr's new lease on life, and the understanding that every life in Israel is important, meant more to us than any nostalgia we once had for Ukraine."
In Israel, Liudmyla has taken up a new career as a writer. "I've started writing about the wonderful people I've come in contact with since we moved to Israel." Volodymyr spends his days reading and walking on the beach in Netanya. "I feel wonderful," he says. “My doctor expects a full recovery."
Although the couple says that in Netanya, with its large Russian population, they would be able to function perfectly well without Hebrew, they will start language classes next month. "We may not need it," says Liudmyla, "but we'll be better off with it. Besides, it's always good to challenge the brain so it stays young and healthy. Although I want my grandchildren to know Russian, I also want to help them with their homework in Hebrew."
Volodymyr and Liudmyla share their gratitude for The Fellowship's donors: "Thank you. We owe Volodymyr's life to you. I can't tell you how happy we are to be in Israel. This is a country that values life. This is a country where people look out for one another. This is the homeland of the Jewish people. God bless you all."