GALILEE, Israel -- Among the four million people that have fled their homes in Ukraine following the Russian invasion, more than 10,000 Jewish refugees have found their way to Israel.
Since men ages 18–60 are not permitted to leave Ukraine, most refugees are mothers with young children. They arrive with little money and few possessions, no place to live, no car, no job, no friends, and do not speak Hebrew.
The Aliyah Return Center (ARC) has been welcoming these new Jewish immigrants to Israel since they began arriving in March 2022 following the Russian military invasion of Ukraine.
ARC is an Israel-based nonprofit organization dedicated to providing practical assistance to "olim" (immigrants), helping them to get settled and put down roots in their new homeland. "Aliyah" is the Hebrew word for "return," which refers to the immigration of Jews to their ancient homeland.
Based in facilities near the Jordan River in the Galilee region of northern Israel, ARC was established to be a "spiritual fortress of refuge," according to charity co-founder and chairman, Chaim Malespin.
"Throughout the years our properties have halfway houses and starting points for new life in the Promised Land for many new immigrants with no place to go. We offer 'a hand up, not a handout,' and we provide assistance beyond the basic food and clothes. We do all we can do to help those in need become self-sufficient."
Since many of these refugees arrived in Israel with only what they were able to carry, ARC has recently announced a new initiative to provide each of these families with a supermarket voucher card with a value of $100.
In addition to urgently needed shelter, food, and clothing, each family will receive a supermarket voucher that they can use for the purchase of specific personal items that they may need: baby food, diapers, nail clippers, scissors, razors, etc. Many arrived in Israel with nothing but the clothes on their backs.
"This is a very expensive undertaking, but it is a very important thing for these families," Malespin said. He is optimistic that the public will rally to support this project.
"When you consider the number of immigrants coming into Israel every week from Ukraine, you will appreciate how costly this initiative is. But at this stage we believe this is the best thing we can do for them."
For more information about the work of ARC: https://aliyahreturncenter.com/en