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Jews Fleeing Ukraine for Israel

May 12, 2014

Jewish youth and Aliyah

Jewish youth proudly display the Israeli flag as they make aliyah (immigrate to Israel).

“Then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where He scattered you.”  (Deuteronomy 30:3)

In response to escalating violence in the Ukraine, many Ukrainian Jews are now considering moving to Israel.  Nineteen arrived last week.

One of the arriving immigrants, 23-year-old Daria Gernovski said, “The situation in Ukraine is not good, I don’t see a future there because of the tensions and because of the financial crisis.” (YNet)

The changes in government in the Ukraine seem to be leading to a rise in anti-Semitism, which has been reflected in the sentiments of certain extremist elements among those favoring a more politically right leaning society.

Recently, Hennady Kernes, the Jewish mayor of Kharkiv, the second largest city in Ukraine, was shot in the back by an unnamed assassin while jogging.  He was flown to Israel where he has been receiving treatment and has regained consciousness.

It is unknown if the attack was motivated by political tensions or anti-Semitism.

This came on the heels of earlier attacks including the stabbing of Rabbi Hillel Cohen, who is the deputy commander of ZAKA Kiev (a Jewish first responder self-help organization) and executive director of Hatzalah Kiev emergency services.  (Arutz 7)

Hennady Kernes shot

In April, Kkarkiv Mayor Hennady Kernes was shot in the back as he was jogging.  Though the attacker aimed for the heart, Kernes survived and was flown to Israel for treatment.  It is not known if the attack was anti-Semitic or due to Kernes’ backing of a united Ukraine.

Ilena Feingold, a Ukrainian Jew who works for the Jewish Agency—the government department that helps Jews to immigrate to Israel—said there is a growing desire among Jews living in all parts of the Ukraine to make aliyah (immigrate to Israel).

Aliyah is up over 142 percent in 2014 compared to last year.

In the port city of Odessa, which is under heavy pressure from pro-Russian forces, some 70 percent of the city’s Jewish population is considering aliyah.

Odessa’s Chief Rabbi Avraham Wolff said that the present desire to emigrate is the greatest he has seen since his arrival in 1992. (Ynet)

The situation is so tense there that Odessa Jews even put together an evacuation plan should tensions increase.  (The Blaze)

Many Israelis, including Feingold, have family ties in the Ukraine, and as violence escalates, they worry.

“I’m from Donetsk.  I arrived to Israel in 1991 with my family but still now I have in Donetsk my aunt.  She’s 86 and I’m very worried—what about her, I don’t hear about her.  I’m only praying that it will be okay,” Feingold said.

Israeli chess grandmaster Alik Gershon

Israeli chess grandmaster Alik Gershon, who immigrated to Israel as a boy from the Ukraine, shakes hands with Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, who is himself a formidable chess player.  Sharansky was born in Donetsk and held as a political prisoner after he applied for an exit visa to Israel in 1973.  After an international campaign to free him, he was able to make aliyah when Russia released him in 1986.

During the 1990s, more than a million Jews made aliyah from the former Soviet Union; many came from the Ukraine.  Although immigration had tapered off, it is once again on the rise.

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem has been helping Jews to immigrate to Israel for over 25 years, including those from the Ukraine.

“The Embassy has already helped more than 40,000 Ukrainian Jews; sometimes it was in times of conflict like this.  This seems to be another occasion where Jews are in danger in the Ukraine,” Embassy spokesperson David Parsons said. (CBN)

Parsons said he sees this present exodus from the Ukraine as a fulfillment of Bible prophecy.

“Even in the Hebrew prophets it speaks of Gentiles assisting with this,” said Parsons.  “And we see ourselves in Scripture as those Gentiles that God has beckoned to, as it says in Isaiah 49, come help with the return of the Jews back to the land.”

Indeed, the Bible states that in these end-times God will send fishers and hunters to bring back His people to the Promised Land.

“However, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when it will no longer be said, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt,’ but it will be said, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.’  For I will restore them to the land I gave their ancestors.

“But now I will send for many fishermen,” declares the Lord, “and they will catch them.  After that I will send for many hunters, and they will hunt them down on every mountain and hill and from the crevices of the rocks.”  (Jeremiah 16:14–16)

Jews from Ukraine prays

Jews from Odessa, Ukraine pray together.

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