Photo Credit: IFCJ

Just before the festival of freedom and in time for their first celebration of the holiday in their homeland, 230 new olim (immigrants) from Ukraine landed Tuesday in Ben Gurion Airport on a “Freedom Flight” organized by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ).

The olim were greeted with a warm welcome by Israel’s Minister of Immigration and Absorption, Sofa Landver, who was waiting for them when they descended from the airplane.

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In her speech, the Minister said, “I am very happy about the continued wave of Aliyah and am sure that together we will provide the olim (immigrants) who have just arrived with the best possible care and optimal absorption in every part of life, so that they will immediately feel at home.”

For many of them the upcoming Passover holiday will be the first holiday celebrated in Israel. The majority of the 78 families who arrived Tuesday were expected to settle in the north and center of the country. Included among those families were four Holocaust survivors and more than 40 children.

Some of the immigrants came from embattled areas in Ukraine where in recent years they lived as refugees in their own country. For many of them the last two years were filled with huge economic difficulties, as Ukraine experienced an intense economic crisis.

Olski and Irina L. came to Israel with their daughter from the city of Dnipropetrovsk. “Life in Ukraine has become life without a future, especially for families with children,” they said. “Because of the continuing war the economic situation is also terrible. For us it was clear, if we are looking for a future for our children, it is better to do it in the land of Israel.”

IFCJ president Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein said the opportunity for the olim to begin a new life in Israel, “living in a strong and independent country, constitutes a rescue for them.

“The holiday of freedom that we will all celebrate soon is a significant expression of the concept of freedom… I call on the all of the people of Israel to remember the olim and invite them to their homes for the seder meal and to celebrate their freedom with them.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.