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March 20, 2014

Update from the Ukraine from our Aliyah fieldworker Koen Carlier

We are doing well here, despite the circumstances.

You are well informed about the situation in the Crimean peninsula and, thus, not in need of any more information from us. But, we in the Ukraine obviously hear of and see the details, and there is even more happening than we think: mines are laid in Crimea, and a large pit was dug and mined at the Crimean main gas valve, in case of a Ukrainian army invasion…

Since yesterday large columns of army vehicles are en route to Crimea from Western Ukraine. Many of the vehicles pass through Vinnitsa in the direction of Uman via the Odessa highway. After Crimea was occupied, the synagogue in Simferopol was clad in swastikas and large letters: ‘death to the Jews’!

The Crimean peninsula, approximately the size of Belgium or Israel, is well loved for its holiday and cultural activities during spring, summer and fall. Yalta and Sebastopol, home of the Russian Black Sea Fleet are popular attractions. 17,000 Jews, live scattered over especially Sebastopol, Yalta, Feodosia, the capital Simferopol and other parts. We’ve been on a couple of prayer visits to a variety of places on the peninsula where we prayed for the return of the Crimean Jews, and that the churches will be ready to assist if necessary.
In the beginning of January our field worker, Nataliya, met with and had discussions with leaders of the Jewish communities in that area. We previously distributed some food parcels and now, since things are becoming more expensive, we received requests for more food parcels.

The present situation for Jewish people wanting to leave: the Israeli consulate in Odessa was strengthened by the addition of an extra consular officer from Kishinev/Moldova, in order to receive more people. There is a ten hour (one way) night trip from Simferopol to Odessa once a day, and a night train back from Odessa to Simferopol in the evening. People can reach the consulate by minibus but, in light of the situation - the borders have, kind of, changed and you cannot simply enter the Crimean peninsula - it is safer to travel by train.

Many Jewish families, from especially Crimea, visit the consulate in Odessa, and the other consulates in Kharkov, Kiev and Dnepropetrovsk, are also busy. Up to 200 families will be interviewed, given explanations and helped with the completion of documentation. And, if necessary, the consulates can be strengthened with extra consular officers. If someone cannot afford the trip to the counsel we, in conjunction with the Jewish Agency, will pay. And, if necessary we will also pay for their passports, that cost between 100 and 200 Euro. There is no question of panic, but many Jews are waking up - literally and figuratively - as winter is nearing its end!

We had various meetings with the JAFI (Jewish Agency for Israel) leaders in the Ukraine as well as the Israeli embassy in Kiev. Together, we are planning large operations to afford as many Jewish people as possible the opportunity to visit one of the 4 consulates in the Ukraine! Our short term aim is to hire 100 large buses, and to give the people in the different provinces the opportunity to visit one of the consulates.

We are presently training an extra person to become a ‘fisher’. Things are going well, and she has a minibus, which is very handy! We also received an offer from a Christian chauffeur who is able to help us, if necessary, on a voluntary basis.

We do not know what the future might bring, and many individuals are progressively becoming more insecure and uncertain. But we dó know, with certainty, that the Almighty is swiftly accomplishing His plans for His People! It’s one minute to 12.00 for the Jews in the Ukraine, the northern countries and the rest of the world. We remain watchful and we pray that the Jewish people will now see the importance of preparing for their one way journey ‘Home’, instead of fearfully biding their time while cowering in a corner somewhere in the Ukraine.

We pray for the best but are prepared for the worst!

Koen Carlier

Please donate to help Jewish families in the Ukraine to prepare for their return to Israel!

 Natalia, aliyah fieldworker explains why we help the Jewish people back to the promised land.




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