Galilee town absorbs hundreds of Ukrainian Jewish refugees

Communities across the country are welcoming the refugees, including northern town with immigrant mayor and street signs bear Cyrillic letters.

By World Israel News Staff and TPS

Hundreds of Olim (Jewish immigrants) fleeing war-torn Ukraine have settled in the northern town of Nof HaGalil, thanks in part due to Facebook posts from the mayor.

Ronen Plot, who himself immigrated from Moldova to Israel some 50 years ago, said he felt compelled to make sure his community properly welcomes the refugees.

“Nof Hagalil is built on immigration,” he told AFP. “We will absorb as many people as we can.”

He wrote on Facebook that “if a big immigration wave arrives, we’d be happy to take part in the Israeli effort,” and urged residents to donate clothing and furniture to the new arrivals.

Plot told AFP that he had secured some 600 empty hotel rooms and 300 apartments to temporarily house the refugees.

“They endured a lot of misery, they are hungry and tired and it’s awful,” he said.

Chaim Gershman was among the Ukrainian Jews that chose to settle in Nof HaGalil because of Plot’s Facebook posts.

“I saw a man inviting, saying come to our city, we’ll welcome you,” he told AFP, adding that he had been shocked by the outbreak of the war.

“At first, we didn’t believe a thing like this will happen and we thought it was fake,” he said.

Gershman, his wife and their four children are currently staying in two rooms at the Plaza Hotel in Nof HaGalil.

The town offers a natural starting point for new immigrants, due to its unique nature as a historic absorption center for people from the former Soviet Union.

More than 50 percent of Nof HaGalil’s residents speak Russian, and street signs bear Cyrillic letters. Local shops sell Slavic delicacies and other familiar products.

In Jerusalem, each family gets a ‘mentor’

The Jerusalem Municipality, in cooperation with the Ministry of Absorption, the Jewish Agency and volunteer organizations, announced Tuesday it is preparing to absorb a large wave of immigrants following the war in Ukraine. At the same time, the municipality is working to send equipment and humanitarian aid to the refugees left behind in Europe.

The municipality established a situation room that includes representatives from the various branches of the municipality, volunteers, and representatives of social organizations, to provide a solution for immigrants and returning residents who wish to settle in the city.

The Jerusalem Municipality “will assist immigrants in exercising their rights, emotional and psychological support, parent guidance, leisure activities and an educational response to children,” it stated.

Each family will have a “mentor” to accompany them and assist them in exercising their rights and dealing with various bureaucratic systems.

Furthermore, “as part of the municipality’s policy to promote values ​​of mutual guarantee and solidarity,” the municipality has invited the city residents to collect humanitarian equipment for the citizens of Ukraine, including Medical equipment, medicines, diapers, thermal clothing, thermal blankets and sleeping bags, baby food and other equipment.

The municipality is also collecting dry food, clothing, hygiene products, diapers, bedding, furniture, toys and games to immigrants who come to Jerusalem.

Others follow suit

Similarly, the town of Efrat, situated south of Jerusalem, announced it was looking for families willing to host refuges in their homes.

“We are reaching out to residents of Efrat who are interested in hosting refugees. Please understand that at this time we do not know the size of the families or how long they will need to be hosted until other arrangements can be made,” the municipality noted.

The cities of Beer Sheva, Haifa, and other towns across Israel have announced similar initiatives.

The Israeli government has said it expects up to 100,000 Ukrainians to request citizenship under the Law of Return, which grants the right to settle in Israel to anyone with at least one Jewish grandparent.