Long And Thorny Path Home

editor - 19 January 2017

The Goldman family escaped from Donetsk in 2014, two days after the railways were bombed and destroyed. The only way to get out of the military zone was to go through three check points. Vladimir and Ilana took their kids Ksenia and Oleg and went to Harkov (Eastern Ukraine). In Harkov they decided to go to Russia.

The Goldman family still in Russia

Did you think of making Aliyah back then in 2014?
“At that time we didn’t have time for preparing all the documents, first we had to run from the danger so after some days we found ourselves in the city of Moscow.” 

Ukrainian damage

But the tactics of “running from” only worked for a short period of time. It turned out that in Moscow refugees cannot apply for kindergarten and school, so Ksenia and Oleg (Ksenia was 8 and Oleg was 4) had to stay at home. Refugees also cannot work legally and cannot pay the very high rent. So the next step in their marathon was to take the train from Moscow to Veliki Novgorod.

Ksenia and Oleg still in Russia

Vladimir and Ilana never denied their Jewish roots, but also never came too close to religion. The first time when they felt that they belong to the Jewish community was during their hard times in Veliki Novgorod. They went to the synagogue and were warmly welcomed by the community, received spiritual and material support there and – made a final decision – as soon as possible they wanted to move to Israel!

The path from decision to realization is sometimes very tricky as the Goldman family experienced. The greater part of their documents was still in the war region. So Vladimir went to their hometown to collect the papers. When this task was finally fulfilled, the Goldmans took a train to Moscow – to the Israeli consulate. The consul looked at the proofs of Jewishness and didn’t have any doubts that this family falls under the “Israeli law of returning” (has the right to make aliyah) – BUT…. The Goldmans were citizens of Ukraine so the consul officer in Russia had no powers to issue any decision about them!

At this stage we from the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) got an application of a desperate Goldman family that already left everything behind and was knocking on different doors. And of course we decided to get involved! We connected Ilana Goldman with Christians for Israel in Ukraine and started to look for a kibbutz in Israel that would be able to receive them as soon as possible.

A bit emotional Ilana continues their story.
“Everyone was laughing at us when I said that in Kiev we had a place to stay and that Christian people that we never met before would help us to make aliyah. But we had no choice, just packed a few of our belongings and took a train from Veliki Novgorod to Kiev (a twenty-seven hour journey), hoping for the best. To say honestly we didn’t believe that someone would wait for us there. Imagine our surprise when we saw on a platform a man holding a plate with big letters on it: GOLDMAN. This is how we met Christians for Israel.”

Yuri took us to the shelter and for the first time after such a long journey that started two years ago we felt that we were surrounded by friends. It was a warm family atmosphere. We met some more olim and refugees from the East that had appointments for consular checks. But of course the biggest impression on us made Natalia from Christians for Israel, she runs the “shelter“. We felt how big her heart is and how much she cares about every single person that arrives to her place. Next day everything went smoothly at the consular check and already one week later we boarded a plane to Israel!”

Here starts a new page of the Goldman-story. The family arrived to Elifaz, a kibbutz in the Arava-desert near Eilat on the 30th of December, 2016. The children Oleg and Ksenia started their school classes right away. Oleg said that for him it doesn’t matter in what language boys play football here, what matters is that they invited him to join the game. Vladimir and Ilana will go to ulpan on the 9th of January, 2017. Meanwhile they have time to adjust to the new climate (from -20 ˚C in Veliki Novgorod to +16 ˚C in Elifaz). Before their arrival the coordinator in the kibbutz, Peter Young (who was an oleh hadash himself some twenty years ago) collected for them from the kibbutz members warm blankets and pillows, pans, cutlery and all the other things that the Goldman family didn’t possess because of their escape from Donetsk. Now they are at home among other olim and kibbutz members.

In their Hebrew class (ulpan) there will be families from RussiaUkraineHungary and Italy. In total ten families that arrived to the First Home in the Homeland in December 2016. And with the help of Christians for Israel the Goldman family has the opportunity to be one of them!

The Goldmans in ulpan

Aliyah of this family is an example of the cooperation between Christians for Israel and the Jewish Agency. With your help we will continue to help Jews make aliyah from the land of the north and from the rest of the world, remembering the words of Jeremiah 16:15.
“but it will be said, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.’ For I will restore them to the land I gave their ancestors.”

Orly Wolstein
‘First Home in the Homeland’
Projectmanager Jewish Agency for Israel


Watch some more photographs below.

More Ukrainian damage

The Goldman family in Elifaz

In the ulpan


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