(March 21, 2022 / JNS) In anticipation of a massive wave of immigration from Ukraine, the Jewish Agency for Israel has launched its “Aliyah Express” program to expedite the immigration process resulting in thousands of Ukrainian Jewish refugees arriving in Israel.
Since Russia’s onslaught into the country last month, some 4,000 Jewish Ukrainian refugees have come to Israel. That number is expected to dramatically increase, especially as the situation worsens. As such, the express program will significantly reduce the timeline for aliyah eligibility checks, and with assistance from the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, private donors and foundations, those fleeing the country will be able to board flights to Israel faster.
The Jewish Agency will also assist in absorbing immigrants when they arrive in Israel. Dozens of employees are being recruited to assist the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration with housing new immigrants in hotels upon their arrival, as well as working with an emergency program that will enroll young Ukrainians in Masa, a program co-founded by the Jewish Agency.
Following a request from the Israeli government, the Jewish Agency will also help establish a situation room to coordinate organizations working on the ground in the region.
“The Jewish Agency continues to be at the forefront of aliyah mobilization efforts, in particular when it comes to Ukrainian refugees,” said its acting chairman and chairman of the World Zionist Organization Yaakov Hagoel. “Combining our organization’s forces with other formidable bodies that facilitate aliyah will help resolve this emergency crisis facing Ukrainian Jewry. Now, they can be rescued and absorbed much faster so they can settle into their new home in Israel.”
At the onset of the Russian invasion, the Jewish Agency sprang into action and mobilized humanitarian and rescue operations in Poland, Romania, Hungary and Moldova. These facilities have housed more than 8,000 refugees so far. There are currently 4,500 refugees at overseas facilities along the Ukrainian border who will soon make their way to Israel. To accommodate them are 7,000-plus beds—a number the organization is planning to increase by opening additional facilities in Romania, as well as renting a stadium in Bulgaria.
“Seeing the Jewish world come together the way it has on behalf of Ukrainian Jewry is truly amazing,” said Amira Ahronoviz, CEO and director-general of the Jewish Agency. “Our operations are made possible by donations of tens of millions of dollars from the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), Keren Hayesod and friends of Israel from around the world.”
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