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Caring for Jews from War-torn Ukraine

June 16, 2022
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The horrific war stories continue to come across our screens. We have the luxury of scrolling on to the next story, but those living in Ukraine have no such option. Since war broke out in Ukraine, we have been helping in every way possible. Over 20,000 Ukrainian refugees had arrived in Israel by May, and they continue to come. An average of 251 arrive daily. Over 36,000 more are desirous to come. This is in addition to the ongoing aliyah (immigration) from all other countries, including twice weekly flights from Ethiopia. In a normal year, 25,000 to 30,000 immigrants arrive. By June this year, we had already reached that level. 

Refugees crossing into Poland

Government agencies, NGOs and charities are all working overtime to help the Jews from Ukraine escape, fly to Israel and then start the difficult process of establishing themselves here in the land. Most have no knowledge of Hebrew. They must get bank accounts, national ID cards, learn the bus and train schedules, understand the currency and after two weeks in a government sponsored hotel, find living quarters. Most of them are elderly or mothers with children, as most men were not allowed to leave Ukraine. Although they get some government assistance for a year, it is not enough to live on, so they must quickly find a job or additional help from organizations like Bridges for Peace.

In Jerusalem, there are currently 800 refugees in hotels who will move out soon, and another 1,500 are expected to arrive in the city over the next few weeks. We are in conversation with social workers who are very concerned for their well-being after their hotel stay. We expect to be inundated with requests to join our Adoption Program, which sponsors new immigrants for one year. We provide food, a rav kav (a card used for transportation on buses and trains), gifts on Jewish holidays, birthday gifts, help with urgent needs and lots of advice and encouragement. Depending on the needs of the person or family, several sponsors are needed. 


Kamila is a new immigrant from Kyiv, Ukraine. She was in the process of preparing to come to Israel when the war started. She told her story in her own words.

“The war began on February 24. I didn’t have time to get a passport. Shelling began in Kyiv and sirens howled. I sat in the subway with other people, trying to escape, and didn’t know what to do next. To my great joy the internet and mobile communications were still working. I was able to get in touch with the Ezra staff [Project Rescue is a cooperative effort with the Ezra Foundation] and get the advice I needed. I was told that the Israeli Embassy was now in Poland and that you could get there by an evacuation train from Kyiv. I was also told that I could get to Israel even with a Ukrainian (not an international) passport, provided I had all the documents confirming my Jewish roots. It was a very difficult path to collect the minimum amount of things, stand in a huge queue for the evacuation train to Lviv, sit in a crowded carriage for a long time and then to stand for a day at the border with Poland, also in line to cross the border, find the embassy and make an appointment with the consul. All this time I had the moral support of Ezra staff. Now I am in Israel, and I am happy that all these difficulties are behind me! I want the war in Ukraine to end as soon as possible and for people not to suffer anymore!”

We thank God that Kamila arrived safely in Israel, but now the process of becoming established begins. She is fortunate, as she has a sister living in Israel. Not everyone is so fortunate.

How Can You Help?

Bridges for Peace volunteers pass out gifts to Ukrainian orphans

We need Adoption Program sponsors to help the many destitute immigrants from Ukraine and other nations survive while they study Hebrew, search for jobs and grieve all they have lost. Your financial commitment for one year will make a vital difference in their lives. After you sign up to be a sponsor, you will receive information about those you are helping, with a picture and a biography. Please pray for them daily as they are overwhelmed with the demands of their new life. 

Onetime gifts to our New Immigrant Fund allow us to help as needed in a variety of individualized ways.

“And the Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble” (Ps. 9:9).

Blessings from Israel,
Rebecca Brimmer
International President and CEO

Photo Credit: Click on photo to see photo credit

Photo License: Crossing into Poland