WZO to create space for 1,000 Ukrainian families in new portable structures - exclusive

Exclusive: A World Zionist Organization will aid in the settlement of olim from Ukraine.

 YOUNG RELIGIOUS Jews, several from Donetsk and the east, at Vishetsky’s Chabad community center in Kyiv. Few are considering aliyah at this time. (photo credit: JON IMMANUEL)
YOUNG RELIGIOUS Jews, several from Donetsk and the east, at Vishetsky’s Chabad community center in Kyiv. Few are considering aliyah at this time.
(photo credit: JON IMMANUEL)

The World Zionist Organization’s Settlement Division plans to place about 1,000 new portable structures throughout Israel’s rural areas to absorb immigrants from Ukraine.

“The war that broke out in Ukraine obliges us to act for the immediate absorption of immigrants,” said Yishai Merling, chairman of the WZO’s Settlement Division.

Before the beginning of hostilities in Kiev, Merling initiated a detailed plan a few weeks ago for establishing temporary homes in large and permanent caravans for Jewish families from Ukraine who plan to make aliyah. He recently showed the emergency plan to Yaakov Hagoel, chairman of the World Zionist Organization and acting chairman of the Jewish Agency.

Read more on the Russia-Ukraine War:

The Settlement Division, a professional and skilled player in establishing new villages and settlements in Israel, plans to put the residential and public buildings intended for temporary absorption of families and individuals arriving from Ukraine next to or in permanent villages.

The plan includes residential buildings of 55 square meters to 90 sq.m. Subsequently, the large caravans will be used as complexes for the absorption of olim in emergency situations, including wars and earthquakes. During the year in peaceful times, the buildings will be rented, and some of the program costs will be returned to the state.

Yishai Merling (credit:  Remy Zranger)Yishai Merling (credit: Remy Zranger)

According to the emergency plan, the buildings will be located on the northern border, in the Golan Heights, the Negev, Arava, the Valley of Springs and the Jordan Valley. A government decision is required to implement the plan.

“When the government decision passes, the members of the Settlement Division are prepared for its immediate execution,” Merling said. “The ongoing fighting in Ukraine and the uncertainty require the State of Israel to prepare in accordance with the absorption of immigrants from Ukraine. Israel needs to take responsibility for the Jewish communities living there. This is what Israel did in the past, and this is what the Jewish state should do today.”

Jewish organizations worldwide have transferred tens of millions of dollars to assist Jewish communities in Ukraine. In addition, the Israeli government and Israeli philanthropists are making an effort to assist the Jews of Ukraine during the Russian invasion.

A number of Israeli organizations, associations and institutions have asked US Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides in recent days to act so that the Americans do not impose sanctions on billionaire Roman Abramovich, and exempt him from the sanctions imposed on Russian oligarchs due to his “contribution to the Jewish people,” Yonit Levy reported on Keshet’s Unholy podcast.

“Roman Abramovich is an Israeli investor and philanthropist, and has made a significant contribution to the Israeli economy and the development of its social sector,” the heads of the organizations wrote to Niles. “We want to warn that any action against him will not only be unfair to him, but also have a negative impact on the Jewish world and on Israel.”

The letter was signed by Yad Vashem chairman Dani Dayan and Prof. Yitzhak Kreis, director-general of Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, among others.

Dayan condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine, tweeting that “Yad Vashem deplores the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which will inevitably lead to dire consequences. We fear in particular for the well-being of innocent civilians and deplore any deliberate endangerment of their safety.

“Moreover, the propagandist discourse accompanying the current hostilities is saturated with irresponsible statements and completely inaccurate comparisons with Nazi ideology and actions before and during the Holocaust. Yad Vashem condemns this trivialization and distortion of the historical facts of the Holocaust.”

The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) has launched a $20 million emergency campaign to provide humanitarian assistance to vulnerable Jewish populations living in Ukraine. Funds will be allocated through the Jewish Federations’ core partners, the Jewish Agency for Israel, the Joint Distribution Committee, World ORT and others in Ukraine. The assistance will provide critical welfare where it is needed most, and support to protect and safeguard Ukraine’s Jewish community as well as Jews in neighboring countries.

JFNA said its emergency funding for Ukrainian Jews will support urgent necessities of vulnerable Jewish populations, community security, temporary housing for displaced persons, emergency needs in Jewish schools and aliyah-related assistance.

“Jewish Federations are hard at work, day after day, year after year, in times of crisis and calm, to build flourishing Jewish communities,” said JFNA chairman Mark Wilf. “And when an emergency erupts, we are positioned to meet the challenges of Jewish people and communities around the world.”

JFNA President and CEO Eric Fingerhut said: “Our crisis response in Ukraine is testimony to the concept of mutual responsibility as suggested by the Talmudic phrase, ‘Kol Yisrael arevim zeh bazeh’ – all of Israel are responsible for one another – and the abiding place that this value holds at the heart of Federations’ work.”

Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.