• Group of olim during our trip to Kiev. | Photo: Christians for Israel Ukraine
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‘This I promise you’

Koen Carlier - 18 November 2021

On Wednesday morning, 17 November a few olim (immigrants) left Kiev airport and went to Israel permanently. We picked up families in Chmilnitsky, Vinnitsa the day before for an overnight stay in our shelter in Kiev.

English teacher Iryna. | Photo: Christians for Israel Ukraine

One of the olim, Iryna, had a particularly hard time saying goodbye to her brother, his wife and other family members. Iryna is a retired English teacher and was delighted to speak English with me. She spoke fluently (no surprise since she was a teacher) and as usual we asked why she decided to go to Israel.

It was a long story but we had enough time during the six-hour drive to Kiev. Nine years ago, their only daughter had left for Israel, something Iryna objected to strongly. Their daughter was a clever woman and had a flourishing career as a lawyer and Iryna saw no point in leaving everything behind to start again from scratch in a foreign country. Her husband, on the contrary, said ‘dear daughter, follow the call of your heart and you have my blessing to go’.

Iryna did not agree with this and it brought tension and stress to their marriage. About a year ago, Iryna’s husband became seriously ill and just before he passed away, he said to his wife: ‘Iryna you must promise me one thing. When I am gone do not stay in Ukraine but go to Israel, your country where our only daughter lives!’ With tearful eyes Iryna nodded yes, this I promise you! And now this promise was fulfilled on Wednesday morning, 17 November.

‘Iryna you must promise me one thing. When I am gone do not stay in Ukraine but go to Israel, your country where our only daughter lives!’

Iryna’s daughter has married a Jewish man from Iran whose grandparents were expelled from Iran. The family is blessed with two sons now 3 years and 9 months old and live in Kiryat Ono, a small town founded in 1939 where there was once a reception camp for Jews fleeing from the surrounding Arab countries.  Now it is part of greater Tel Aviv.

Iryna and the other olim were very glad that they did not have to travel all night but that they could spend the night in the shelter. At the airport, they thanked us all for the safe journey and our good care. It will be such a special reunion for Iryna and her daughter, son-in-law and her two small grandchildren.

Next week there are flights scheduled for olim from three different airports. From Kiev the capital, Odessa in the south and Dnepr in the east of Ukraine.

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