Jews Fleeing Ukraine Arrive in Karmiel, Israel

Immigrants fleeing the war in Ukraine have started arriving in the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s Partnership2Gether region of Karmiel/Misgav, Karmiel Mayor Moshe Koninsky said yesterday.

“So far, more than a hundred people who have arrived from Ukraine have been integrated into the city, and many more are expected to arrive,” Koninsky said. “We are preparing to the best of our ability to accept those who will be coming.”

The Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) reported that, as of March 22, approximately 4,000 Jews have made aliyah (moved to Israel). JAFI-run facilities in Poland, Romania, Hungary and Moldova have housed more than 8,000 refugees so far, both Jewish and non-Jewish. Officials said they plan to open additional facilities in Romania and rent a stadium in Bulgaria for the purpose of housing refugees.

“In this terrible crisis, it has been heartening to see that the longstanding relationships with our international partners have enabled Jews to get from Ukraine to Israel — especially to our Partnership2Gether region — with incredible speed,” Jeffrey H. Finkelstein, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, said. As of March 23, the Jewish Federation had raised more than $1.1 million for its Ukraine Relief Fund. Thanks to an anonymous $500,000 donation, the Federation’s fund now offers a dollar-for-dollar match for all donations.

Mayor Koninsky reported that, to receive immigrants from Ukraine, the government of Karmiel is renovating an old hotel, equipping apartments available to the municipality and renting apartments around the city. Some Karmiel residents have volunteered to host refugees in their homes “for the foreseeable future,” Koninsky said.

“The rapid integration of the newcomers is undoubtedly a challenge for us,” Koninsky continued, “but we are determined to do everything possible to succeed in it. In fact, I can say that the whole city of Karmiel has mobilized in an effort to accept here everyone who comes to the city and needs help.”

Currently, JAFI facilities house 4,500 people who fled Ukraine and who will soon make their way to Israel. In anticipation of this wave, JAFI launched its Aliyah Express program, which will expedite the immigration process to accommodate thousands of Ukrainian olim (immigrants to Israel) per week.

“The Jewish Agency continues to be at the forefront of aliyah mobilization efforts, in particular when it comes to Ukrainian refugees,” said Yaakov Hagoel, acting chairman of JAFI and chairman of the World Zionist Organization. “Combining our organization’s forces with other formidable bodies that facilitate aliyah will help resolve this emergency crisis facing Ukrainian Jewry. Now [Ukrainian Jews] can be rescued and absorbed much faster, so they can settle into their new home in Israel.”

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