'I love Israel and its people': Ukrainian model flees war to start new life in Israel

Vika Levi says she and her husband always wanted to make Aliyah, but they postponed it each year until the war in Ukraine decided for them; believing Ukraine will emerge victorious, she plans to celebrate her wedding, also delayed by the fighting

Aviv Weinberger|
"I was asleep, my phone rang, and my friend on the other side of the line told me, 'the war has started,'" Ukranian model Vika Levi recalls.
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  • "I mumbled that I don't believe it, and she told me to look out the window. My husband and I went to the balcony, we heard the sirens, saw the bombing, and from that day on, our lives had changed," the 26-year-old Levi says.
    4 View gallery
    ויקה לוי בהפקת אופנה ל"לאשה"
    ויקה לוי בהפקת אופנה ל"לאשה"
    Vika Levi
    (Photo: Meir Cohen)
    "I called my mom and my friends to make sure that everyone was okay and alive, we packed a bag with documents, money, and clothes and went to friends who had a shelter at their home.
    "In Israel, almost every house has a bomb shelter, but in Ukraine, the war caught us off guard. We stayed at the shelter for a few weeks to figure out what we were going to do with our lives," Levi says.
    4 View gallery
    ויקה לוי בהפקת אופנה ל"לאשה"
    ויקה לוי בהפקת אופנה ל"לאשה"
    Vika Levi
    (Photo: Meir Cohen)
    What was your next move?
    "After a few weeks we managed to get a car, we picked my mom and my brother up and decided to drive toward the border. It took us two days to get to Romania, traffic was crazy, and when we arrived at night, we stopped at a gas station, and suddenly the vehicle caught fire," she says.
    "Luckily, the local Jewish community was nearby helping refugees. They helped us and transferred us to Berlin, where we spent two months. For a long time, we thought about making Aliyah to Israel, but we kept saying 'we will do it next year.' Eventually, the war decided for us."
    4 View gallery
    ויקה לוי בהפקת אופנה ל"לאשה"
    ויקה לוי בהפקת אופנה ל"לאשה"
    Vika Levi
    (Photo: Meir Cohen)
    How was the absorption process in Israel?
    "We've been here for three months. The first few days we were in shock with everything that happened to us. We tried to find an apartment in Tel Aviv, it wasn't easy, but we finally found one. I love Israel and the people here. But for my husband Kirill, it is a little more difficult - he's a music producer and in Ukraine, he worked with a lot of pop artists. Now he has to start over."
    4 View gallery
    ויקה לוי בהפקת אופנה ל"לאשה"
    ויקה לוי בהפקת אופנה ל"לאשה"
    Vika Levi
    (Photo: Meir Cohen)
    When did you start modeling?
    "When I was 16, I went for a photo shoot in Istanbul, but I had a bad experience, they didn't treat me well and I decided I did not want it anymore. At the age of 18, I started studying art management at the university and began modeling again in Ukraine. After I finished my degree I modeled in Korea, Italy, and Israel."
    Levi says she and her husband had not yet celebrated their marriage because of the war and hopes that after Ukraine emerges victorious, which she believes will happen, she and Kirill will have a proper wedding party.
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