ICEJ Assisted Rescue Flight from Ukraine

A group of 100 frail elderly Ukrainian Jews making Aliyah to Israel landed safely at Ben Gurion Airport on the third night of Hanukkah.

For them the third night of Hanukkah prayer was especially meaningful: “Blessed are you, Our God, Ruler of the Universe, who performed miracles for our ancestors in their days at this season.”

This urgent rescue flight was made possible by the efforts of the Jewish Agency, and the ZAKA emergency response team with substantial financial support from ICEJ and several other organizations.

Back in Ukraine, Hanukkah candles were sometimes the only source of light for some Jewish households.

These new Olim also had a Hanukkah miracle having escaped the relentless bombing and power outages which have resulted in widespread shortages of heat, light and fresh water.


76-year-old Ella Smirnova, who left her home in Odessa, as she was preparing for the Rosh Hashanah holiday in September had fallen and broken her neck and was completely paralyzed. “I’m totally handicapped and limited to my bed, so this war has added to my feeling of helplessness, and I didn’t see a way out. When the air raid sirens went off, the only thing I could think to do was try and hide under the bedsheets, as the only way I would be able to save myself is if someone came along to help me,” she said.

Dovi Weissenstern, CEO of the ZAKA emergency response organization told J-Wire Australian News: “This flight of 100 people evacuated from the war zone is very emotional, particularly in these days of Hanukkah as it is a modern symbol of the heroism of the weak over the mighty,”

“The sad reality is that most of the world has become complacent with the war in Ukraine while our teams are still working in the field at all times in cooperation with other organizations. Every day we’re assisting Holocaust survivors, the elderly, and people who have been injured in the shelling,” Weissenstern noted.


Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said a number of energy facilities were damaged during what he said was the 10th such large-scale attack on his country. The 11th such attack occurred on New Year’s Eve.

“Russia is trying to deprive Ukrainians of light before the New Year,” Shmyhal wrote in a Telegram post.

Since the war began ICEJ reacted immediately in the first days the conflict to send a large donation to pay for the flights of more than 300 Olim. In 2022 ICEJ supported Aliyah of rescue for 1,390 Olim from Ukraine including nearly 400 frail elderly seniors and among them some 200 Holocaust survivors. 17 Holocaust survivors have already been received in the ICEJ Haifa Home.

Israel’s ambassador to Ukraine told the Jerusalem Post he expects another wave of Aliyah in the winter as the war on infrastructure rages on.

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