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April 17, 2014
Update from the Ukraine from our Aliyah fieldworker Koen Carlier
After a series of lectures in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, which included 3 special family days, we safely passed the border on Tuesday, April 1st, and after 9 more hours of driving, I was home with my wife and children. While we met many acquaintances and were encouraged by you, time was limited and we could not meet with all of you! However, the Ukrainians and Israeli’s were overcome by the overwhelming warmth and friendship they experienced!
There was not much time to rest and, once back in the Ukraine, our mobile phones kept ringing or else we had to phone all over. Wonderful inventions, these mobile phones, but being able to sometimes silence them, would be a great help!
A short update:
- Between April 5 and April 8, we made a tour in the Eastern Ukraine where we met many olim (people who wish to go to Israel) on a 1 day aliyah seminar. Many new Hebrew classes, where prospective Israeli citizens can learn the language in the meantime, have sprung up all over the Ukraine in the offices of the Jewish Agency.
- The beginning of April saw the gradual beginning of riots in the eastern part of the country, and we witnessed the unsuccessful attempt of the hundreds of policemen to protect the large provincial offices, in the city of Kharkov, against the attackers. At the moment dozens of offices of the local authorities are occupied by heavily armed men who demand a referendum to join Russia. I lived in Doneck for three years and, in the cities where offices are now occupied, our committed team held many ‘fishing concerts’, urging the Jews to leave. In the past we were able to take many to the airport at Dnepropetrovsk and Odessa for their 3 days boat trip with destination Haifa. Many thought: ‘things are fine in the Ukraine, let’s stay. Israel is this or that…’ It is becoming more difficult to prepare for aliyah in calm way. Many of the government offices, wherefrom one obtains the official documents to leave the country, barely functions these days!
- During the past months the synagogues in Ivano-Frankovsk, Bela Cherkov, Vinnitsa, Odessa, Zaporohya, Mogolov Podolsky and Kramatorsk were attacked. Simferopol and other places were smeared with anti-Semitic slogans. We have seen photographs but the people do their best to remove it immediately and prevent further attention.
- Aliyah from the Ukraine increased with 70%, compared with the first 3 months of the previous year! A good start, but I would rather have seen a 700% increase.
- Christians for Israel made it possible that 43 olim (immigrants) from the Crimean Peninsula could leave on a flight from Simferopol to Moscow and then on to Israel, where they are all safe now, and busy with an integration program. We hope to meet some of the families when in Israel on a working visit.
- Before Pesach, on April 7 and 8, we brought several potential Jewish families for their interviews to the embassy in Kiev, and many of the olim whom we assisted left for Israel permanently.
- We increased our team with one chauffeur and 2 ‘fishers’ (Jeremiah 16:14-16). The aliyah team, consisting of 10 people, is now active in the eastern, central and western parts of the country. More team members can be deployed for a short period.
- During the past 3 years Pascha and Dima, our mobile Israel pastors, have spread the Bible message of God’s plan with Israel in more than 400 churches in the Ukraine. Thousands of Russian and Ukrainian ‘Why Israel?’ books have been distributed amongst the attendants and, since 2 months ago, ‘Why End Times?’ is also available in Russian.
- The first direct flight between Vinnitsa and Tel Aviv took place on Wednesday, March 19th, but the first flight with olim from Vinnitsa, will take place on Wednesday, April 23rd. This previously military airfield wants to commence with commercial flights, but the newly-started flights, to Moscow and Simferopol, were temporarily suspended. Only the weekly return flight between Vinnitsa and Tel Aviv continues.
- In the western part of the country large billboards exclaim ‘we conquered Hitler, and we shall conquer Putin – stop the Russian occupation!’
- Leaflets have been distributed to synagogues in Kramatorsk and Donesk for Jews to ‘register’ before 3 May? Read more about this leaflet. Our ‘fishers’ visiting Jewish families in the east of the country, will investigate this!
- We recently distributed quite a few food parcels, and it is rather strange to see how thankful the people are. But, if you take into account that the price of consumables increased with between 30% and 70%, all help is welcome! While handing out food parcels yesterday, a poor old lady asked for one extra parcel. Igor and others present said no – one parcel per person. She implored me with tears in her eyes, and I handed her an extra food parcel. These are strange times!
- At a Cedar celebration yesterday, 16/042014, with 120 Jews from Vinnitsa, I was asked to speak. It was expected, and I asked those present ‘do you want me to be civil or honest?’, they replied ‘honest.‘ I gave a clear, simple message about ‘returning’. Afterwards there are normally people who disagree and start discussions… This time it was quiet and everybody went home peacefully!
- More than 40 olim will leave the Vinnitsa Province via Kiev and Vinnitsa during this and the next month! Please pray that the flights to Israel will continue all over the Ukraine, as well as the flights from Vinnitsa to Tel Aviv!
There are three things I have to think of:
- the poem about the ‘fishers’ and the ‘hunters, written by Nadia van Rijswijk (see below)
the very inspiring article written by Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs of the Netherlands:
Between Purim and Pesach: Ukraine!
- and the Word of God that came to us via the Jewish People. I read Jeremiah 14:14-18 yesterday, and contemplated the situation in the Ukraine during the past months; who knows what we still have to face?
Your prayers and gifts for the aliyah workers and chauffeurs, who are often on the road for many hours and days, enable us to continue our task amongst the Jews in the Ukraine!
Please donate to help Jewish families in the Ukraine to prepare for their return to Israel!
Greetings from all of us in the ‘Northern Country’
Koen and Ira Carlier
Dima and Dina
Pascha and Nastia
Igor and Natasha
Nataliya and Yuri
Igor and Taisa,