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First Ukrainian Birthright group since Russian invasion arrives in Israel

Dr. Miriam Adelson and Gidi Mark with the Birthright group from Ukraine, after landing at Ben Gurion International Airport. (Photo: BIRTHRIGHT ISRAEL)

The first Birthright group from Ukraine since Russia launched a war on its western neighbor landed in Israel Monday night. 

The group of 24 young Ukrainian Jews was brought to Israel in a special arranged flight by Dr. Miriam Adelson – Birthright’s largest donor and no. 10 on the ALL ISRAEL NEWS Top 23 Israelis to watch in 2023 – who accompanied them. 

The group will spend 10 days on an educational tour of Israel. For many of them, it is the first time they have left Ukraine since the war began. 

Fifteen of the participants traveled to Warsaw, Poland to meet their flight, arriving from the Ukrainian cities of Kyiv, Odessa, Kharkiv and Dnipro. Each of those cities remain under attack by Russian forces, while the other nine members fled Ukraine during the war and have already been living abroad in Germany and Poland. 

“The participants will be able to disconnect from the war for a short time, thanks to their Birthright tour throughout Israel, from the Golan Heights to the Negev,” said Taglit-Birthright Israel in a press release

Adelson said she heard about the group while in the United States and flew to Poland on her private jet in order to escort them to Israel. She left Austin, Texas, on Saturday night, after participating in the Israeli-American Council conference. 

“Every Birthright group in Israel is exciting, but this group is extra-special,” said Birthright Israel CEO Gidi Mark, who joined Adelson on the flight. “I met the participants when they landed and realized how much strength and optimism each of them has.” 

Some of the Birthright participants will remain in Israel for a few weeks in order to participate in a follow-up program called “Onward Israel.” The Onward Israel initiative is internship program designed for university students and serves as a resume-building experience in Israel.

The last group of Birthright visitors from Ukraine arrived nearly one year ago, last February. Some were unable to return home at the end of their trip due to Russia’s bombing of Kyiv. Those young people were some of the first Birthright participants since the lifting of COVID-19 travel restrictions. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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