In a pre-recorded video address broadcast to attendees at the Jerusalem Post London Conference, Jewish Agency CEO Amira Ahronovitz discussed the Agency’s ongoing operation to save Jewish lives in Ukraine. She pointed out one crucial difference between the current refugee crisis and others in Jewish history. “The main difference is that nowadays we have a strong State of Israel that can provide a safe haven with the backing of a strong Jewish people worldwide,” said Ahronovitz.
Jewish Agency professionals prepared for the crisis ahead of time, Ahronovitz explained, and started making contingency plans. The Jewish Agency has had a large-scale presence in the region for many years and was able to immediately deploy assistance where it was needed. “From day one of the war in Ukraine,” noted Ahronovitz, “The Jewish Agency kicked into gear with operations simultaneously launched in four countries bordering Ukraine – Romania, Moldova, Hungary and Poland, where we received thousands of Jewish refugees.” In conjunction with the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, The Jewish Agency opened an emergency hotline for Jews in Ukraine, which has received over 28,000 calls. “The scale and complexity of this operation is unlike anything we’ve ever encountered,” said Ahronovitz.
Thousands of Ukrainian Jews have arrived in Israel, and The Jewish Agency expects this number will reach 15,000 in the coming month. Most have arrived in Israel with little belongings other than the clothes on their backs, she reported. “It is clear to us that another major focus needs to be on their long-term integration into Israel. This will be an enormous national effort together with the Ministry of Aliyah and Absorption and other partners to make sure we provide those olim with basic essentials for them in housing, employment, financial assistance, learning Hebrew and much more, all in order for them to begin a successful new life in Israel. We’re also aware of the post-trauma and psychological support that will be needed to help these new Israelis through this devastating time in their lives,” said Ahronovitz.