• Waiting for departure to the airport and the flight to Israel | Photo: Sveta Soroka
SOS Ukraine

Refugee or Repatriant?

Koen Carlier - 6 April 2022

In the last few weeks we have kept you updated regularly about the work of Christians for Israel in Ukraine. Since the outbreak of the war our work has grown rapidly and we are committed to Jewish refugees who want to leave for Israel via Moldova and Romania.

“Many Ukrainian Jews are longing to go to Israel”

In the meantime we were able to help a lot of Jewish refugees. Most of them are taken in in one of our shelters. Many Ukrainian Jews know that they can and are allowed to go to Israel because they have friends or relatives that already live there. They are longing to go to Israel themselves.

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Part of the Jewish refugees have actually fled but have no idea where they can or would like to go to. They are fleeing from Mariupol, Zaporizhzhya, Kharkiv, Chernigov, Odessa, Sumy or Kyiv and they end up in one of our shelters in Western Ukraine. There they decide what to do.

“Jews from Mariupol, Zaporizhzhya, Kharkiv, Chernigov, Odessa, Sumy or Kyivask in the shelters frequently ask: what should we do?”

This group of Jews ask us for advice frequently: what should we do? Our answer is actually always: you can go to Europe, just like about four million other refugees from Ukraine. You will end up somewhere in Poland, Germany or the Netherlands. But you can also return to your homeland Israel as a repatriant.

Immihratsiya versus repatriatsiya
In Ukrainian (by the way, the same for Russian) people speak about “immihratsiya” and “repatriatsiya”. Immihratsiya means immigration and relates to Ukrainians who are fleeing. However, if it is about Jews who go to Israel, then people use the word  repatriatsiya, a repatriant. Someone who returns to his or her homeland.

“The only thing we do is echo Biblical prophecies. Like for example in Jeremiah 31:10″

So, this is what we say, when we are asked for advice. Is this because we are so eager to let them make aliyah? That is not how we see that. The only thing we do is echo Biblical prophecies. In Jeremiah 31:10 e.g. it says very clearly:

“Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, and declare it in the coastlands far away; say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him, and will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock.’”

That flock still consists of Jews who live outside of Israel at this moment. What is the best place for them to go to? Israel! See, for example the story of Jewish Svetlana, who fled from Donetsk, eight years ago. She thought that she would be safe in another place in Ukraine, but now she is fleeing again. This time as a ‘repatriant’: she is leaving for Israel.

Flee to Zion
The prophet Zachariah is very specific as well: “Up! Up! Flee from the land of the north, declares the Lord. For I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heavens, declares the Lord. Up! Escape to Zion, you who dwell with the daughter of Babylon.” (Zachariah 2:6-7)

A song that gives me goosebumps in this context is “Al kol ele” (“For the sake of all these things”) by the Israeli singer Naomi Shemer, who became famous in the sixties with the song “Jerusalem of Gold/Jerushalayim Shel Sahav”. Watch this beautiful performance that was made specially to celebrate Israel’s 70th Independence Day.

Very soon the thousands of Jewish repatriants who left for Israel in the last month from Ukraine will celebrate Pesach (Passover) in Israel. This verse from the Book of Jeremiah is very special in this context:

“Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when they shall no longer say, ‘As the Lord lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ but ‘As the Lord lives who brought up and led the offspring of the house of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he[a] had driven them.’ Then they shall dwell in their own land.” (Jeremiah 23:7-8).

“Through the whole Bible it becomes clear that God longs to let His people return to the Land of Israel”

We go on
Through the whole Bible it becomes clear that God longs to let His people return to the Land of Israel. Therefore Christians for Israel has been involved for 25 years already with the aliyah of the Jewish people from, amongst others, Ukraine. Especially in this difficult time we will continue with this with a dedicated team. We feel lifted up by your prayers and support.

This week we will collect a large group of Jewish refugees with our main bus from East Ukraine, amongst others from Mariupol and Zaporizhzhya, and take them to the airport of Kishenov for their immigration. If necessary, we can provide more buses.

Will you please continue to pray for open roads and open borders, so that the evacuation flights from Moldova and Romania can continue? Thank you for your dedication!


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