Ninety Ukrainian Jewish refugees arrived in Israel on Wednesday to begin a new chapter of their lives, on a chartered flight made possible by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ).

The group joined more than 15,000 people who have made aliyah since Russia invaded the European nation in February 2022. While the majority of the refugee immigrants arrived in the early weeks and months of the conflict after fleeing westward into Poland and Moldova, recent efforts by Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah and Integration (before 2017 the Ministry of Immigration and Absorption) and partner agencies have focused on helping those who chose to stay behind but were later forced out of their homes by the fighting.

“I am here to say that you have come home. I view the successful absorption of the immigrant community as an issue of national importance and we are here to assist in learning a new language and culture as well as being integrated into the national workforce,” said Aliyah and Integration Minister Ofir Sofer, who was at Ben-Gurion Airport as the flight arrived.

“This latest flight of 90 new Israelis comes after a year of war and bloodshed where we have been able to assist over 5,000 people to flee that carnage,” said Yael Eckstein, president of IFCJ. “Together with our partners in the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, the Jewish Agency and others, we view it as a source of immeasurable pride to be able to give these special individuals and families the promise of new lives of safety, security and hope in the Jewish homeland.”

Sergei and Ludmilla Pumreykov and their eight-year-old daughter Ksenia at Ben-Gurion Airport, Feb. 8, 2023. Photo by Avishag Shaar-Yashuv/IFCJ.

Among the passengers on the flight were three members of the Pumreykov family, Sergei, 41, Ludmilla, 36, and their eight-year-old daughter Ksenia.

Sergei described the last year as a “living hell” saying, “The most common sound we would hear was the air raid siren. We lived on the 10th floor of our building and every time the siren wailed, I’d grab my wife and daughter and run as fast as possible down the stairs to the basement shelter. I would encourage Ksenia by saying it was a game to see who could get there fastest. It was terrifying. There were constant power outages and we were sitting for hours in the cold and dark. We realized we couldn’t live like that anymore.”

IFCJ has committed more than $26 million towards helping thousands of Ukrainian refugees fly to Israel and set up new homes and livelihoods over the past year, building on its 30-year involvement in supporting immigration to Israel.


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