Approximately 250 new immigrants (olim) from Ukraine arrived in Israel on Monday and Tuesday via flights chartered by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. The flights were the final ones for new immigrants in 2018.

During the past year, the Fellowship succeeded in bringing 4,800 olim to Israel—almost 25 percent of the overall total olim who moved to Israel in 2018. New immigrants hailed from 29 countries around the globe, including Morocco, Moldavia, France and Brazil.

“This last year, we witnessed a slight decline in the number of immigrants to Israel, but I’m both delighted and proud that the Fellowship’s role in immigration is constantly developing and growing,” said founder and president Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein. “This is largely thanks to its investment in every immigrant—a project that begins in the pre-aliyah stage and culminates only after its completion and successful acclimation of the immigrant into his or her new country and society.”

The new arrivals from Ukraine included M. and Avia Onesco of Kherson, who both served as deputy mayors of their native city. They decided to move to Israel because of the ongoing political situation and failing economy in Ukraine, which has prevented them from being able to adequately retire there. Their daughter made aliyah a year ago after traveling to Israel with the Taglit-Birthright Israel program.

Also in the group is Y. Novosad of Odessa, a professional athlete and two-time billiards champion at the European Championship. He has also held the Ukrainian title for the past 15 years. When he was visiting Israel last year with his wife and daughter, Novosad said he was astounded by the quality of life in Israel relative to Ukraine.

“The educational system, the health system and the way parents relate to their children here is so different and so much better,” he said. “On the spot, we were determined to make Israel our home.”