Project Spotlight: Medical Rescue Flights for Holocaust Survivors

The Fellowship  |  May 9, 2022

Yael Eckstein helping an Elderly Jewish woman off an Aliyah flight.
(Photo: Avishag Shaar-Yashuv)

Thanks to You…

  • 3,269 Ukrainian refugees have made aliyah with The Fellowship as of May 3
  • 7 special medical rescue flights are under way thanks to our partnership with ZAKA and JDC

Learn More About Fellowship Medical Rescue Flights

With our partners, we are going home to home to find elderly in Ukraine in need of medical care in order to evacuate safely. We are identifying those with the highest medical needs and chartering special flights to accommodate any medical needs, such as a person who needs to be in a medical bed. We help these elderly evacuate to a center in Moldova staffed with doctors to provide care and oversight prior to the flight, then a doctor is on board the medical flight, and they are given full medical care once they arrive in Israel.

Lyudmila’s Story

Elderly Jewish woman in green holding the hand of a female IFCJ staff member.
(Photo: Eli Mandelbaum)

Lyudmila, a 98-year-old Holocaust survivor, has lost her sight over the years. However, she can imagine the sights of Jerusalem that she hopes to visit after arriving in Israel with her daughter Larissa thanks to The Fellowship. “My husband dreamed of Israel,” says Lyudmila. “He died more than thirty years ago, but I remember the conversations we had about Israel as if it were yesterday.”

Both Lyudmila and Larissa are escaping a town near Odesa. “There are hardly any Jews left and the synagogue is already empty,” adds Lyudmila. Like many of the people of Ukraine, these two women did not believe that war would break out. Then the bombings began to approach Odesa.

Larissa feared that her mother, who is in poor health, would not survive the journey to flee. “But she told me she was strong and would survive it. The Jewish community helped organize a bus to the border, where the representatives of The Fellowship met us.” From there, they boarded a Fellowship rescue medical flight where Lyudmila was accompanied by doctors to keep her safe. “If it wasn’t for this medical flight, I wouldn’t have the option to getting my mother out of Ukraine,” says Larissa.

This flight also had special, personal significance for Lyudmila, as they arrived on the night before Holocaust Remembrance Day. “My husband’s whole family was murdered during the Holocaust. He was talking about it his whole life. I am now almost 100 years old and I’m making aliyah which is fulfilling my late husband’s will,” says Lyudmila. And in Israel they will have a home and reunite with Larissa’s children and grandchildren in their biblical homeland. It’s a prayer come true!

Please join us today in prayers and support for Ukraine and Jewish people across the globe in the most need.

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