1,214 Ukrainians immigrate to Israel, 45 of them Holocaust survivors

16,500 Ukrainians have immigrated to Israel so far, most of them have settled mainly in four cities: Netanya, Haifa, Tel-Aviv-Jaffa and Jerusalem.

 Aliyah and Integration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata (Blue and White) meeting a Holocaust survivor immigrating to Israel from Ukraine.  (photo credit: ALIYAH AND INTEGRATION MINISTRY)
Aliyah and Integration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata (Blue and White) meeting a Holocaust survivor immigrating to Israel from Ukraine.
(photo credit: ALIYAH AND INTEGRATION MINISTRY)

1,214 new immigrants from Ukraine were absorbed by the Aliyah and Integration ministry this week, the ministry announced on Friday. This latest group contributes to the overall number of olim from Ukraine: 16,500. 

Among them are 45 Holocaust survivors who are receiving additional aid from the Welfare and Social Affairs Ministry. Over 500 Holocaust survivors immigrated from Ukraine to Israel since the beginning of Russia's invasion of Ukraine on February 24. 

"We are wrapping up a very exciting aliyah week with dozens of Holocaust survivors who arrived this week in Israel," said Aliyah and Integration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata (Blue and White). "They commemorated Holocaust Remembrance Day after escaping the horrible war in Ukraine." 

"We have the privilege to provide these Holocaust survivors with a safe home and will provide them with anything they might need," she added. 

2,663 Ukrainian immigrants have been put up in hotels throughout the country so far - 525 of them this week. Thanks to a resettlement plan approved by Shata in collaboration with the Finance Ministry, 600 immigrants who are currently in hotels will be moved to permanent homes. 

 Jewish immigrants fleeing the war in Ukraine, on a rescue flight sponsored by the IFCJ, arrive at Ben-Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, March 6, 2022. (credit: NATI SHOHAT/FLASH90) Jewish immigrants fleeing the war in Ukraine, on a rescue flight sponsored by the IFCJ, arrive at Ben-Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, March 6, 2022. (credit: NATI SHOHAT/FLASH90)

Immigrants from Ukraine have settled mainly in four cities: Netanya, Haifa, Tel-Aviv-Jaffa and Jerusalem.

One survivor, Valerie Bendersky, was seven-years-old when he fled the Nazis in Ukraine to Kazakhstan. He now had to flee a second time due to the Russian invaders. 

“I have lived through two tragedies,” the 85-year old said, speaking from his new home in Petah Tikva, near Tel Aviv: “I was fleeing from Hitler then, now I have fled from Putin. Naturally, it is hard,” he told Reuters, speaking in Russian.

“I said to myself: Oh my God, what a nightmare! Here we go again with the war, bombings, evacuation, leaving your home behind, not being sure if you’ll stay alive or not,” said another survivor, 100-year-old Dova Govergeviz.

She comes from the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and was in her 20s when she had to abandon home for the first time with her mother, taking shelter hundreds of miles to the east in Uzbekistan until World War II ended.

An estimated 2,729 Ukrainian civilians have died in the war so far, according to the UN.

As such, not all Holocaust survivors made it out. 91-year-old Holocaust survivor Vanda Semyonovna Obiedkova died near her home in Mariupol on April 4 while the city was under a devastating Russian attack. Her family believed that her survivor testimony died with her.

Andrew Lapin/JTA contributed to this report.