The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews now offers emergency medical flights to assist disabled elderly as they evacuate Ukraine

The Fellowship  |  May 10, 2022

Yael Eckstein with elderly olim on Fellowship flight from Ukraine
(Photo: Avishag Shaar-Yashuv)

JERUSALEM The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship) is now sponsoring emergency medical evacuation flights from Moldova to Israel to help disabled elderly safely escape besieged cities and towns in Ukraine. The first medical evacuation flight took place on April 14, with two more flights following on April 27 and May 8.

The Fellowship is coordinating these efforts with Zaka and the JDC to help these patients make aliyah (immigrate to Israel). Approximately 175 elderly in Ukraine have already been identified who need special evacuation services, including those that require 24/7 surveillance for their medical needs. Doctors and EMT’s are on board the flights to provide around-the-clock assistance, and planes are equipped with medical beds for those who need to fly in full or partially reclining positions. Prior to their fight to Israel, refugees are taken to a facility in Moldova where they are cared for by doctors.

One of those rescued on a Fellowship-sponsored medical evacuation flight was 98-year-old Lyudmila, from a town just outside of Odesa, Ukraine. When the war approached Odesa, Lyudmila’s family in Israel began to encourage her and her daughter Larissa to leave Ukraine. “’At first we weren’t really scared, because maybe we didn’t really believe it was our new reality. But quickly everything became very scary, and we knew that our lives are in danger,” says Lyudmila.

“My husband dreamed of Israel,” Lyudmila went on to say. “He died more than thirty years ago, but I remember the conversations we had about Israel as if it were yesterday.” Lyudmila’s husband’s family was killed during the Holocaust. But, she went on to say, “I am now almost 100 years old and I’m making aliyah to Israel, which is fulfilling my late husband’s will. We have established a home and a family. This is our victory over the Nazis. I arrived in Israel on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, and this took on a symbolic meaning for me.”

“We are very grateful for the help we received from The Fellowship during every step of our evacuation, from our home in Ukraine to the special medical rescue flight in a comfortable plane with doctors who kept us safe,” Larissa exclaimed. “I don’t know how we’d survive without The Fellowship’s assistance.”

Yael Eckstein, President and CEO of The Fellowship, met the May 8 flight when it arrived at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv.

“How we look after the most helpless in our world says a lot about our values and our priorities,” says Eckstein. “Theses men and women, many of them upwards of 100 years old, have endured so much in their lives, and they deserve nothing but our careful attention and faithful compassion. Now, many of them are in war zones, unable to leave their beds. We cannot leave them behind in this crisis. Thanks to the compassion and generosity of our faithful Christian donors, The Fellowship will continue to sponsor these emergency medical evacuation flights until the last elderly Ukrainian Jewish citizen is brought to safety.”

The goal is to offer these medical evacuation flights from Moldova to Israel once a week to the elderly who need it.

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