Hundreds of Jews fleeing Ukraine to arrive in Israel next week

Would-be immigrants escape from war-torn country to Poland, Moldova and Romania; will be brought on three flights scheduled for Sunday, Jewish Agency says

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

Illustrative: Jewish Ukrainian refugees are sheltered and accommodated in a Chabad shelter run in Kishinev, Moldova, March 2, 2022. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Illustrative: Jewish Ukrainian refugees are sheltered and accommodated in a Chabad shelter run in Kishinev, Moldova, March 2, 2022. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Hundreds of Ukrainian Jews fleeing the ongoing war will land in Israel at the beginning of next week, the Jewish Agency for Israel said Wednesday.

The refugees will immigrate to Israel on three separate flights, leaving from Poland, Moldova and Romania.

They will reach Israel on Sunday.

“These olim (Jewish immigrants) escaped the harrowing fighting in Ukraine and were assisted by aliyah (immigration to Israel) centers operated by the Jewish Agency and International Fellowship of Christians and Jews in four bordering countries,” the Jewish Agency said.

They will be greeted at the airport by Immigration and Absorption Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata, Acting Chairman of the Jewish Agency Yaakov Hagoel, and President and CEO of the IFCJ Yael Eckstein.

“[Ministry of Immigration and Absorption] teams will provide each immigrant with an extended benefits package and will arrange temporary housing in hotels across the country,” the Jewish Agency said.

Many thousands of people have already contacted the organization about immigrating to Israel in the past few days amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a Jewish Agency official told The Times of Israel on Saturday, asking not to be identified by name.

Though not all of these will necessarily complete the process and immigrate, it would still mark a major jump from previous years. In all of 2021, just over 3,100 people immigrated to Israel from Ukraine. Israeli officials have said they are preparing to accept thousands of Jewish immigrants from Ukraine.

The Jewish Agency, a semi-governmental body that is responsible for encouraging and overseeing immigration to Israel, has been working to facilitate the expected wave of migration from Ukraine to Israel in light of the Russian offensive, including setting up emergency hotlines to answer questions about the immigration process. Some 200,000 people in Ukraine are eligible to immigrate under Israel’s law of return, which requires a person to have at least one Jewish grandparent in order to receive Israeli citizenship.

On Saturday, the organization said it was establishing six aliyah processing stations on Ukraine’s borders with Poland, Moldova, Romania and Hungary, as Ukrainian refugees fled the country en masse.

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