More than 100 orphans who were moved to Israel after evacuating from the Ukrainian town of Zhytomyr shortly after the Russian attack in February of 2022 have been forced to again flee following the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on southern Israel.
The children have been relocated to the central Israeli village of Kfar Chabad through the coordination of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) and the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, which was also responsible for their initial move to Israel.
Their initial escape to freedom required a trip from the “Alumim” orphanage in Zhytomyr via the Carpathian Mountains until they reached Romania nearly a week and a half later. From there, they made it to Israel and the village of Nes Harim near Jerusalem until September. With the start of the new school year, the group moved to Ashkelon to an expanded dorm setting better suited to their needs.
Weeks later, their lives were again thrust into chaos with the attack by Hamas on Oct. 7. IFCJ organized their evacuation from the war zone to the relative safety of central Israel and the community of Kfar Chabad, where they are now living in the “Or Simcha” youth village.
In their new home near Ben-Gurion International Airport, sirens are heard periodically, but the students are able to get out of their dorms and feel relatively safe, according to IFCJ president Yael Eckstein.
“The pain of seeing young Jewish children forced to flee for their lives is something that we hoped was a thing of the past,” she said. “But the difference is that today, we can do everything in our power to make sure they are taken to safety and can live with the hope of a better future. That is our commitment to them and all who need our support.”
She added that “the kids are able to learn and participate in all sorts of therapeutic sessions. They have been through so much, but we can only hope and pray for better days ahead—for them, for our soldiers and for the injured, and, of course, that the hostages be returned home safely.”