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Just a Week before Aliyah

editor - 20 October 2020

Rosh Hashanah and Sukkot are over and we in Israel are still in lock-down due to COVID-19, but it’s a miracle that aliyah is still going on. Today I want to share with you the stories of three wonderful families who will make aliyah in just one week. We will keep you updated about their absorption and life in Israel.

The Alexandrov family
Maxim, 34, and Margarita, 30, with their daughter Sofia, 8, will make aliyah from St. Petersburg, Russia in October 2020. Maxim is an electrician and Margarita is a sales manager).

“We found out that we could make aliyah in the spring of 2019. Rita’s father shared with us the story of his family we had never heard before. Her parents did not want her to know she was Jewish because they were afraid she would have to cope with the consequences of antisemitism and tried to register her everywhere as Russian. She sometimes heard her parents speaking about their relatives in Israel but never took it as something that had to do with her, Maxim says.”

“Our first step was Rita’s participation in the Taglit-Birthright Israel program in February 2020. She came back impressed and delighted by Israel and in March 2020 we got the aliyah visa on the first try. The Jewish Agency in Saint Petersburg mediated between us and the First Home in the Homeland program team and after receiving all the information about this amazing program we understood it’s really perfect for us!”

“We must leave everything behind in Russia: our home, our family, our achievements. We are scared and excited at the same time, Margarita recalls. We do it for our daughter and want her to live in a free country, where she doesn’t have to be afraid, but can be proud of being Jewish. For us it is also a tribute to our ancestors, who were forced to hide their identity and origins”.

The Koshelev Family
Anton (35 years old) with his wife Asia (34 years old) and their two daughters Ksenia (9 years old) and Leia (10 months) will make aliyah from St. Petersburg in October 2020. Anton is a lighting specialist, Asia is an actress.

“My grandmother was from Uman, Ukraine. One of her relatives was a rabbi. They were a very respected family and lived there happily until World War II broke out. Almost her entire family was brutally murdered by the Nazis. She survived by miracle. The fear was so strong that the fact that we are Jews was kept a secret in my family, recalls Anton. I was always inexplicably attracted to Jewish culture, traditions and history. When my mother told me about our origins, everything fell into place. I was the first person in our family in the past 70 years to become involved in “Jewish” life. I went to a Jewish school, all my best friends are Jews, and I am also the first to make aliyah”.

“In fact, it was my idea to make aliyah. The whole process took us more than 2.5 years. The path to the historical homeland of Anton was very difficult. His grandparents were so afraid for the lives of their children that they changed their names, surnames and nationalities, Asya said. The future and well-being of our children is our priority, of course. In addition, it is very important for us to restore justice and give our daughters the opportunity to live freely and without fear”.

Let’s wish the best of luck to this family, that has overcome many obstacles to finally arrive in Israel.

The Skryagin Family
Georgii Skryagin (44), his wife Ekaterina (43) and two kids Elizaveta (13) and Alexandr (11) will make aliyah from Kiev, Ukraine, in October 2020. Georgii and Kate are engineers.

“To love my family, preserve traditions and always keep in touch with relatives – these values were instilled in me by my beloved grandmother Basya,” says Katya. “She was an amazing woman. Like many Jews in Soviet times, our family was forced to change their family name and hide their Jewish origin. Despite this, every September we ate apples and honey, and the fish head was a must at our feast. In December, my grandmother made delicious donuts, the taste of which I still remember, and in April – matzo. When I became an adult, I realized that Basya, unbeknown to us, taught us to celebrate Rosh Hashana, Hanukkah and Passover”.

“My grandmother Basya was always the centre of the family, uniting all relatives. Before her death, she gave me a notebook with telephone numbers and asked me to keep in touch, – Katya recalls, – I am happy that I can fulfil my grandmother’s dying wish. Many of our relatives live in Jerusalem and Rehovot. We decided to make aliyah because we believe Israel is the country where we belong. Now that, thanks to the Program, we will finally find ourselves in Israel, we will be able to keep in touch not virtually, but in real life.”

We from JAFI are looking forward to welcoming these wonderful families in Israel and will keep you updated about their absorption and life in Israel.

Please support the “First Home in the Homeland” Project. Any amount is welcome!
Assisting a family in the “First Home” program costs € 230 euro / US $ 250 a month.

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