A warm welcome awaits in Israel for the many Jews currently fleeing Ukraine. Tatyana Gershman (40), from war-torn Zaparozhe, is one of them. Through the project First Home in the Homeland, which is supported by Christians for Israel, she will soon settle in kibbutz Ein HaShofet in northern Israel to start her integration process.
Valeria Zakharova works at First Home in the Homeland and was very surprised when she received a call from Tatyana recently. ‘Hello Valeria, I am currently waiting for my flight. I’ll see you in Israel.’ Valeria: ‘We had been in contact with Tatyana for a long time about her coming to Israel and our integration program, but the circumstances had put everything on hold. I called her on March 21 to find out how she was doing. At that time she was still in Ukraine, had no idea what to do and asked us for help. We were her only link to Israel. I gave her the phone number of Nataliya, who is part of the Christians for Israel team in Ukraine, and told Tatyana that she might be able to help her. And so less than ten days later she called me to tell me that she would be getting on a plane to Israel at that very moment. On March 31, Tatyana landed in Israel.’
Her mind is still much in Ukraine, the country she had to leave so unexpectedly. ‘I fled the war with the help of the Christians for Israel team. I met Koen and Nataliya at the shelter in western Ukraine. They took very good care of me and I was really touched by their kindness, personal attention and commitment. By bus we went to the border with Moldova and then on to Kishenov, the capital of Moldova. During the bus ride, Koen talked to all the refugees and tried to cheer us up.’
The decision to flee was made quickly, although it was not easy to leave everything behind. Tatyana: ‘Because of the constant threat, I hardly had time to think about it properly. I felt depressed, but at the same time it was an opportunity to go to Israel. I am so incredibly grateful to the team at Christians for Israel, and I wish them all the best in the beautiful work they are doing.’
Tatyana is now living temporarily in a hotel while waiting for all the necessary Israeli documents to be arranged. As soon as this is arranged, she will move to kibbutz Ein HaShofet and be able to start her integration process, in which learning the Hebrew language is an important priority.
Currently, there are already thirty kibbutzim that assist in welcoming Jewish refugees from Ukraine through the program of First Home in the Homeland. In the meantime, they have already taken in the first 34 families.
It is expected that the number will increase rapidly.
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