On Friday, March 11, the first wave of youth fleeing war-torn Ukraine arrived at the Hadassah-supported Meir Shfeyah Youth Aliyah Village, after being referred by the Jewish Agency for Israel and Israel's Ministry of Education. Both Hadassah villages -- Meir Shfeyah and Hadassah Neurim -- have arranged to provide refuge to an influx of 12- to 18-year-old refugees fleeing the war, and their families when needed, as part of Hadassah's rapidly evolving relief interventions.
The kids were welcomed with comfortable accommodations, toiletries and a safe, peaceful Shabbat. As the intake process gets under way, counselors are learning more about their individual educational, medical and emotional needs -- and offering them a safe space in which to speak about their experiences and expectations.
When the war in Ukraine began, Youth Aliyah already had residents from Ukraine and from Russia. Staff have been working to resolve any conflicts between Russian and Ukrainian village residents triggered by the war, reinforcing their shared identities as Israelis. Meir Shfeyah is committed to providing whatever resources are needed to help these young people adjust, recover, live and study there for as long as they wish.
The youth had expected to come to Israel this September as part of the Na'ale program, but on February 24 the unthinkable happened and they left their homes -- and many, their families -- under tragic and terrifying circumstances.
Graduates in Action: Delivering Supplies
Over 300,000 young people have graduated from the Hadassah-supported youth villages. Among them is Mark, a graduate of Meir Shfeyah known as an outstanding leader, a member of the Shfeyah orchestra, an active volunteer at the Shfeyah winery, and one of the founders of a nonprofit that prepares and delivers Shabbat meals to Lone Soldiers.
Last week, Mark led a delegation of Meir Shfeyah graduates -- currently doing their pre-army IDF training -- to bring much-needed supplies to those who have managed to escape the war to Kishinev, Moldova, known to many of us for the Kishinev Pogroms of more than a century ago.
Ever since 1934, when Hadassah founder Henrietta Szold first welcomed children fleeing Nazi Germany, Hadassah-supported Youth Aliyah villages Meir Shfeyah and Neurim have provided at-risk young people with the safety net of support and education they need to become happy and productive members of Israeli society.