A Passover reflection on supporting immigrants in Israel during war

On the eve of Passover, as we celebrate the historical paradigm of emerging from slavery to freedom and the triumph of the human spirit over adversity, the journey of new immigrants to Israel takes on special resonance

Linda Pardes Friedburg|
The dream of building a promising new life in Israel has been complicated by the stark realities and uncertainties of war.
The war in Ukraine and the subsequent Hamas-inflicted war in Israel are a double source of trauma for our newest Russian-speaking immigrants.
2 View gallery
מטוס עולים נחת בישראל
מטוס עולים נחת בישראל
Immigrants arrive in Israel
(Photo: Yedidut NGO)
With more than 12,000 new immigrants arriving in Israel since October 7 - and over 70% from the FSU - many of these young men and women are, on the one hand, proud to be soon enlisting in the IDF, but also stressed by the challenges of transition to a new life during wartime.
"Since the war began, my whole family in Kharkiv has been living under constant alarm," told me Oleg, a 23-year-old recent Oleh. "It's a feeling of helplessness and despair, knowing that our loved ones are in danger while you are far away, trying to build a new life, but also under the reality of war."
Amidst this backdrop of uncertainty and fear, grassroots community initiatives like Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli have emerged as lifelines for new FSU immigrants seeking to find their footing in Israel. We offer a "community envelope" for immigrants who find themselves alone in a new country, providing much-needed support, social connections, and enriching content during these challenging times.
"There are moments when I miss my family, and there are moments where I feel so proud to be part of this society and that all Jews in Israel are family," reflects Tanya, a new immigrant from Moscow. "Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli is an embracing family framework that gives me a lot of strength and also helps me explore Israel and learn about Jewish culture. I can get help with any topic, in my language, from peers who have been through the same challenges."
Our "Shabbat Host" program, where more established SSY community members invite new immigrants to share Shabbat dinners, has proven to be particularly impactful during this period. New Olim are learning to celebrate Shabbat as a social, communal experience close to their homes. and finding meaningful connections through these gatherings.
One of our hosts shared how a family that arrived a year and a half ago from Ukraine asked to go to synagogue with her husband because they had never visited one.
"The wife approached me afterward and thanked me for helping them feel connected to Judaism and Israel just from this one evening."
As we gather around the Seder table this Passover, we should remember how many of our People are still making their first steps in the Land of Israel, in their quest for better lives and true freedom.
The miracle of the Exodus continues, but with it the tremendous honor and responsibility to help our newest Olim feel welcome and part of Jewish history and destiny, even as we fight evil and endure this terrible war.
2 View gallery
Linda Pardes Friedburg
Linda Pardes Friedburg
Linda Pardes Friedburg
Like their predecessors, our current talented and motivated young FSU Olim will strengthen Israel in every field. They'll serve in IDF combat units and excel in high-tech, education, academia, the sciences, and the arts...
But first, they must feel that, despite the challenges, they are in the right place, and that we are grateful that they have come home. Our warmth and encouragement are key to helping them stay in Israel. "In every generation, we each must see ourselves as having left Egypt."
Whether today or 3300 years ago, our People are blessed to share this common consciousness of moving onwards and upwards, from darkness to light, from bondage to freedom.
The stories of our newest Olim highlight the power of community in creating resilience and strengthening the human spirit, even through the trials of war - and our clear, essential roles in this epic chapter of Jewish history.
The commenter agrees to the privacy policy of Ynet News and agrees not to submit comments that violate the terms of use, including incitement, libel and expressions that exceed the accepted norms of freedom of speech.