Kiev Boryspil Airport, Ukraine’s international airport. It is on November 3rd , at three o’clock in the afternoon. In a few hours, the flight of eighteen-year-old Arthur from Donetsk will take off. He is one of the 140 Jewish youngsters who will arrive in the country he had been dreaming of for years.
Entering Ukraine is not so difficult. A negative corona rapid screening test is enough to move around freely within the country. But that can change any day now: the number of contaminations in the country rises explosively. In some inland hospitals, corona patients are laid down in the corridors, because the ICUs (intensive care units) and also the other hospital departments are fully occupied.
Any moment the Ukrainian Government can decide to change the travel restrictions to code red. And when that happens, all plans have to be changed again…
The airport appears to be extinct. A couple of tired business travelers rush through the departure hall, with face masks and hand luggage. The car park near the departure hall is as good as empty. Until the moment at which three coaches stop. 140 Jewish youngsters get off the buses. For some, it is the first time they get a closer look at an airport. For everyone, it is the last day they call Ukraine their home country. One of the youngsters is Artur. He is a sportsman. His parents, grandparents, and two younger brothers stay behind in Ukraine. He had to travel for days to get to Kiev. It is difficult to cross the Russian-Ukrainian border. When he arrives in Israel he will enroll in an educational program.
The logistical effort behind this group of Jews making Aliyah (immigrate to Israel) is a mammoth task. Seventeen
employees from Christians for Israel coordinate the journey, in close cooperation with the Jewish Agency and Keren Hayesod from Israel. Passports, medical tests, luggage, airline tickets and of course face masks. Some of the Jewish youngsters fled from the war zone. From the eastern regions Donetsk and Mariupol, where there is still unrest between the Ukrainian army and the pro-Russian separatists. Dozens of minibusses left early in the morning from all over the country. A country, twenty times the size of Israel. On sometimes difficult roads, on their way to the Promised Land. But they are here now, all of them. They are ready to leave.
In the meantime, it is seven o’clock in the evening. The airplane is taxiing away from the departure hall. In festive letters it is written on the plane: “40 years blessing the Jewish people”, referring to the 40th anniversary of Christians for Israel. From the centuries-long Diaspora, the Jewish people are returning to their ancient Home Land: the land of Israel. Thereby aided by Christians.
A couple of hours later, late at night, the group safely lands in Israel. Mission accomplished! Another group of Jews came home in the Promised Land. What will the future hold for these 140 youngsters who can call themselves Israeli citizens from now on? Arthur tells us: “I don’t know what to expect, but my dream is to make room in Israel for my whole family.” Starting today his dream comes true.
By Sara van Oordt, Director Media & Communications Christians for Israel Netherlands