Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met with participants in the Masa Israel Journey program from Ukraine at the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv on Tuesday.

“First and foremost, I want to tell you that you have a home here. Israel is you and your families’ home and the home of every Jew in the world, now and forever. The State of Israel was established for that very reason in the first place,” said Bennett.

Referring to Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, the prime minister added, “Through you and your ties in Ukraine, my message is: First, we are with you, and second, Israel is home to every male and female Jew,” he said.

Israel had already dispatched three planes full of “large amounts” of medical equipment to Ukraine, two of which had already landed, Bennett told the Masa participants.

“We are there to help Ukrainians in general and Jews in particular,” he said.

Masa Israel Journey CEO Ofer Gutman said, “Over the last month, we have been witness to a spike in demand among young people from Ukraine to come for Masa programs in Israel. With the cooperation of the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency, we are working hard, in Israel and Ukraine, to allow all those who are willing and able to come for Masa programs to do so.

“We have hundreds of participants in various programs that are impacted by the situation, and we embrace them at this difficult hour and provide them with a … as much assistance and support as possible.”

Some 12,000 young people from over 60 countries come to Israel to take part in Masa Israel Journey volunteer, internship and educational programs that run from a few months to a year. Hundreds of those program participants are from Ukraine. Upon completion of the program, many participants choose to make aliyah.

Masa Israel Journey was established by the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.


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