AUSTRALIANS in Israel have been among those who have welcomed Ukrainian refugees at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel.
Last week, Melbourne gap year student Abby Feldman joined representatives from Keren Hayesod to welcome Jewish refugees from Ukraine at the sky bridge as they arrived from the war-torn country.
“It was a privilege to experience this. There were 81 olim on the plane that flew in from Poland,” she said.
“We handed out Israeli flags and lolly bags to the kids. The kids were happy. They were dancing around.
“When the olim moved to the customs hall the extent of what they are going through really hit me – they are here [in Israel] because they have fled from a war and arrived with absolutely nothing, perhaps one or two plastic bags of possessions. It was heart breaking.”
Mount Scopus Memorial College alumna Feldman – who is the daughter of United Israel Appeal (UIA) Victoria CEO Jeff Feldman, is currently living in Jerusalem as part of her Ohrsom gap year program.
The Ohrsom program places emphasis on three key areas; education, experience and travel. During the year-long experience, students undertake both formal and informal education into fundamental Jewish values and concepts, as well as career building and personal growth.
Participants also spend five weeks as an intern, gaining professional experience in an industry sector of their choice.
Feldman chose to work at an NGO and at the most critical time in modern history, ended up at Keren Hayesod’s head office in Jerusalem. It is in this position and in the midst of the war in Ukraine that she found herself assisting her fellow Jews arrive and settle in Israel.
The government of Israel and Keren Hayesod-UIA support Masa Israel Journey gap year programs, such as Ohrsom.
Meanwhile, UIA NSW executive member Nathan Archie said he was honoured to represent UIA on the tarmac to greet nearly 100 families – mainly women and children – fleeing Ukraine.
“The raw emotions were palpable, despite the language barrier I witnessed the strange mix of fatigue, sorrow and elation on the faces of the people disembarking,” he said.
“They say the eyes are the window to the soul and here they revealed women and children who had to leave fathers, brothers and other relatives behind.
“It is moments like this that truly affirm why I continue to be involved with UIA to help our Jewish family in Israel and anywhere in the world whenever they need it most.”
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