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  • Streetview of the Sovet Union at the beginning of the nineties | Photo: JAFI
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First Home in the Eshkol area (South of Israel)

Valeria Zakharova - 23 November 2021

“For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, that spreadeth out its roots by the river, and shall not fear when heat cometh, but its leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.” Jeremiah 17:8

This article is about Snezhana Ginzburg  – the new FH coordinator for olim absorption in the Eshkol area – who also made aliyah under the “First Home in the Homeland” Program almost 30 years ago. She officially joined FH in August 2021, but actually, she has always been a part of this project. Her mum Galina Ginzburg was helping new olim families in kibbutz Zeelim and Snezhana did everything she could to assist her. Unfortunately, Galina Ginzburg passed away on November 20, and this article will be a kind of tribute.

“Who are the people behind our olim’s stories?”

We often share our olim’s stories with you but who are the people behind them? Who are those accompanying new families and why do they stay involved?

It is not a secret that Israel is a kind of melting pot where Israelis who have made aliyah from different parts of the Globe live together. And each of them has his or her own story.

Snezhana’s parents and her were pioneers. Of course, the program was a bit different, but its mission was the same.

“We made aliyah from the Former Soviet Union in 1993. I was 4 years old then. The country had collapsed, and we found ourselves in the unknown country with no prospects for the future. Besides all father’s relatives had moved to Israel in 1991. And my parents decided to change our life. Since that time, I have lived in kibbutz Zeelim”, remembers Snezhana.

Streetview from the Former Soviet Union in the nineties | Photo: JAFI

Her family made aliyah via “First Home in the Homeland” because they wanted to become a part of Israeli society. And they did.

Snezhana, with her mother and father, carrot harvest, Israel, 1994 | Photo: JAFI

“Thanks to FH I received great kibbutz upbringing and quality education. We celebrated all Jewish holidays and were absorbing Jewish traditions from day to day. After the program we had been staying in Zeelim for 2 years and after that lived in Ofakim (the city located nearby).

Snezhana and her parents planting a tree on Tu BiShvat Holiday, Zeelim, 1994 | Photo: JAFI

My father worked as a driver and my mother worked in the kindergarten in Zeelim as a teacher’s assistant. We had been Ofakim residents for 6 years and after that my parents applied for coming back to the kibbutz. I celebrated my bat mitzvah and finished school here. My sister was born in the kibbutz”, – says Snezhana.

Snezhana’s mom with her grandson. The same place, carrot harvest, 2017 | Photo: JAFI

Like all Israeli girls Snezhana served in the army and converted to Judaism during her service.

“In Israel I realized clearly that the Soviet Union was my birthplace while Israel was my Homeland”

“My father is a Jew. But my mom is Russian. And it was difficult for me to identify who I was. At 18 I visited my “Motherland” with my family. It was a very important move for me. There I realized clearly that the Soviet Union was my birthplace while Israel was my Homeland”.

Snezhana, her mom and sons planting a tree on the Tu BiShvat holiday, Zeelim, 2019 | Photo: JAFI

After the army service Snezhana lived in Ashdod and Ashkelon for a while. She met her husband there. And when while they were expecting to become parents, they already knew that they wanted to bring up their children in the kibbutz.

” I returned to Zeelim again. It was my third homecoming to the best place to live for my children. After making aliyah in 1993 we felt like a “Russian family in Israel”, but with no prejudice towards us on part of the community. I am sure everything might have been different if we moved to town and to not the kibbutz”.

Snezhana with her husband and their sons in kibbutz Zeelim | Photo: JAFI

After 28 years in Israel Snezhana has become a part of the First Home family. Actually, she has always been.

“My mom used to volunteer in our kibbutz for a long time. She was helping new olim families to adapt to the new life. And I did what I could to assist her. So, for me being coordinator for olim is much more than a job. Participants of our Program keep moving to Israel for different reasons. And I think that our mission is to show them that there is something else deep inside themselves that makes them do so. We should help them to feel that they belong to the Jewish people and to find a real Home in the Holy Land!”

Please support the “First Home in the Homeland” Project. Any amount is welcome!
Assisting a family in the “First Home” program costs € 230 euro / US $ 250 a month.

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