Project Spotlight: On Wings of Eagles

The Fellowship  |  March 5, 2019

Mother holding her child who's holding an Israeli flag.

The Fellowship’s On Wings of Eagles program assists needy Jews in making aliyah (immigrating to Israel). They come from all over the world — Russia, France, Ukraine, Argentina, and elsewhere — to escape anti-Semitism and extreme poverty, and to realize the dream of living in their biblical homeland. When they arrive in Israel, On Wings of Eagles provides them with klitah (resettlement) assistance to help them become full, productive citizens.

Arriving in Israel Full of Hope

Anna was surprised at how quickly she learned to tolerate life under fire in Ukraine. In 2014, she and her husband, Anton, watched in horror as pro-Russian militants invaded Ukraine, trying to capture their city, Donetsk. But as time went on, so did their lives. The couple continued to raise their kids, and they even had another child, despite the fact that many of the reputable doctors had left the country when the hostilities started. While life as they knew it had changed dramatically, they had no choice but to try to keep moving forward.

“Surprisingly, you get used to war, understanding that nothing will ever change,” said Anna.

When the war first started, the family had to leave their home in Donetsk because the company Anton worked for relocated to Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. At first, the company happily paid for the family’s housing, knowing that they were IDPs (internally displaced persons). However, a year later, the company could no longer afford to pay for their rent, and the family was left wondering what to do next. They couldn’t afford the city’s high cost of living. Anton started looking for a new job, one that was located in a more affordable part of Ukraine. The family moved back to Donetsk and Anton found work in annexed Crimea, meaning he’d be away from his family every few months for work, which became a huge burden and struggle.

When Anna reflects back on this time in her life, she realizes that her attitude is probably what allowed her to keep going, even as shells exploded dangerously near their home. But after a while, the war took its toll on her. “I realized that so many people, including me, were getting used to the idea that constant danger is a normal way of life. I started thinking about how dangerous the explosions could be. Often nobody warns you about the upcoming danger. And I thought about how this war could last for ages. At that point, I realized I couldn’t stand living there anymore.”

Then Anna’s uncle made aliyah (immigrated to Israel) and she started wondering if her family should make aliyah, too.

Since Anna and Anton both come from strong Jewish backgrounds, they started talking about moving to their spiritual homeland. Eventually, they contacted The Fellowship, and planned to make aliyah on a Fellowship Freedom Flight. “We don’t have that feeling that we will lose something. Life just begins and we will gain much more ahead,” said Anna.

After living life in such uncertain and dangerous circumstances, the family feels truly blessed to begin new lives of hope in the Holy Land. They feel especially grateful to The Fellowship and its donors for all the help that was provided. “The Fellowship showed great understanding for our difficult position,” said Anna. “We did not have passports or visas and The Fellowship waited with us. With your help, we safely made it to Israel. Thank you!”

Help fill the next Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein Freedom Flight and bring a Jewish person or family from the “four corners of the earth” home to the land promised to them — Israel.