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Jewish Agency to expand program pairing students with seniors who fled Ukraine war

"Being a new immigrant is never easy, and for seniors who made aliyah due to the war, it is even more difficult, says Dana Zacks, director of the Jewish Agency's Israeli Society Unit.

Ukrainian Jewish immigrants arrive at Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv as part of an aliyah from Ukraine on Feb. 20, 2022. Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90.
Ukrainian Jewish immigrants arrive at Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv as part of an aliyah from Ukraine on Feb. 20, 2022. Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90.

A new program by the Jewish Agency aims to help seniors who immigrated to Israel due to the war in Ukraine integrate better and battle loneliness by connecting them to university students who speak their language.

A successful pilot program in Karmiel in northern Israel recently ended, with plans to expand to the rest of the country. For the duration of the academic year, 12 students accompanied 47 seniors, helping them one-on-one as well as in group events.

One such volunteer was Alisa Alievsky, who helped Rima and Alexander Kamin, both in their early 70s, who had fled Kharkiv, northern Ukraine, which has seen some of the worst fighting.

“I helped them with various documents, including for pensions, and told them a little about Karmiel and Israel,” said Alisa. “It’s not easy to move to a new country at their age, and they need a sympathetic ear. I visit Rima and Alexander once a week and help them with whatever need arises in their daily lives.”

Dana Zacks, director of the Israeli Society Unit of The Jewish Agency said that the program created bonds within Israeli society and gave students the opportunity to volunteer in their communities.

“The students and the seniors in the program that launched in Karmiel speak the same language and share the same culture. Being a new immigrant is never easy, and for seniors who made aliyah due to the war, it is even more difficult. The students not only speak their language but also know the challenges of the integration that they face, which is why their support is vital,” said Zacks.

Originally published by Israel Hayom.

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