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  • Olim from kibbutz Merhavia with tulips from the Dutch Tulip tour, shortly before all ulpanim in Israel were closed until end of April | Photo: JAFI
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Israeli Ulpanim(*) Closed Until End of April – First Home Update

Orly Vohlstein - 8 April 2020

Shalom, dear Friends,

During these tough times of uncertainty and stress, we want to send this message of encouragement to each of you. You supported us in happy and sad days, stayed faithful and close to us always, without fear. Now we want to hug you (digitally it’s still allowed) and encourage you to be careful, attentive to your relatives and friends and to stay in good mood! We think and pray for you, every day we see the disturbing numbers growing, behind these numbers are faces of our friends from all over the world.

Please stay strong, in good mood and good health! There will be a new day after COVID-19 when we will meet in Israel when you will come to visit us!

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea…” (Psalm 46:1-2).

Do you want to know how participants of the First Home are doing during the quarantine? In Israel we are not allowed to go further than 100 m from the place of living now. So Ulpan studies are cancelled, but we keep olim busy with zoom meetings, Hebrew courses online and psychological help to everyone who is in need! Families in some remote kibbutzim have challenging times with food supplies, but here mutual aid becomes stronger – olim who already finished the program assist the newcomers with explanation and food provisions.

Pavel and his family came to Israel from Tashkent 6 years ago. Today Pavel works as a bus driver and on his daily route with the intercity bus he distributes to olim-families food and some other basics like soap or nappies.

Bus driver Pavel on his daily route with his intercity bus | Photo: JAFI

David and his family made Aliyah from France four months ago. They filmed their quarantine in kibbutz Ketura (near Eilat). Would you like to see what it looks like to be placed in quarantine in the desert?

And finally – how would you organize a birthday party with 2 metres of social distance? Look how kibbutz Merhavia did it!

Hopefully we could cheer you up, at least a little bit!

“I will satisfy the weary, and all who are faint I will replenish.” (Jeremiah 31:25).

It feels like the most difficult USSR-times under the iron curtain, when you were not able to get out as well… But in 1991 this “quarantine” was over for the Soviet Jews. In large numbers they came home!

Olim arriving in Israel during USSR times | Photo: JAFI


Aliya goes on, even in these difficult times! Thanks to your support and prayers.

(*) An ulpan (Hebrewאולפן) is an institute or school for the intensive study of Hebrew. Ulpan (plural ulpanim ‘אולפנים) is a Hebrew word meaning “studio”, “teaching”, or “instruction” (from: Wikipedia)

Best wishes,

Orly Vohlstein
Project Manager of JAFI’s ‘First Home in the Homeland’

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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