Dateline August 17: Update from the Georgian Front

Jewish Agency representatives in Georgia are trying to establish contact with hundreds of Jews cut off in the region of Kutaisi and in the town of Kareli near the city of Gori. These attempts take place daily and utilize every possible method.

“There are hundreds of Jews in these areas” say the representatives of the Jewish Agency “and we’re hoping to get in contact with them and assist them in any way we are able, as we’ve done up to now.”

The leaders of the mission in Tbilisi, the head of the Jewish Agency mission in the South Caucasus Grigori (Grisha) Brodsky and the director of the Unit for the Commonwealth of Independent States, Alex Katz, provided the following details:

Since the beginning of the battles, hundreds of Georgian citizens have applied to the central legation of the Jewish Agency.  The Jewish Agency representatives certify for aliyah only individuals who received confirmed exit visas from the Israeli consulate.  “The cooperation between the Jewish Agency, the Liaison Office and the consulate has been superb,” explains the mission chief, Grisha Brodsky.

He says that scores of Jews from the region of Gori  who arrived at the mission received full assistance from the Jewish Agency, including finding places to sleep in dormitories and hotels.  The Joint Distribution Committee has  also entered the rescue and assistance picture and all the Jewish organizations have united in order to assist the Jews who are in distress.

The new ambassador, Yizhak Gerber, who started work the day the hostilities began, conducts a daily situation evaluation together with Jewish Agency personnel, and three times a week a plane departs for Israel carrying olim whose immigration has been legally approved. On Sunday, 17 people who have confirmed places in absorption centers were slated to immigrate to Israel.

Olim from Tbilisi fill out applications for aliyah.

Olim will be arriving in Israel the entire week, says Brodsky, but the investigations of the potential olim continue until the very last possible moment.

“I myself made aliyah to Israel in 1991” says Brodsky “and I’m a great believer in the aliyah of young adults and youth.  When I arrived here, two years ago, there were six participants in the Naaleh program and currently there are 10 participants a year who want to study in Israel, live in a democratic country, and make progress with their lives. I believe with all my heart that this requires ever-increasing support.”