The Jewish Agency Evacuates 200 Jews from War-Torn Region to Georgian Capit

August 11, 2008 / 10 Av 5768

Surge in Aliyah applications, 8 immigrate to Israel Sunday

The Jewish Agency for Israel, through its office in Tbilisi, Georgia, coordinated the evacuation Saturday (Aug. 9) of 200 Jews from the city of Gori, adjacent to the war-torn region of South Ossetia, to safety in the Georgian capital.

A Georgian Jewish family arrives August 10 at Ben Gurion Airport. The Jewish Agency brought 8 new immigrants on the flight. Photo Credit: Abe Selig

Since the outbreak of the crisis, the Jewish Agency, with its shaliach (emissary) and staff in Tbilisi, has been working to bring Jews to safety from the areas of combat and is expediting the process of immigration to Israel for Georgian Jews.

Over the weekend, the Jewish Agency has received 60 new applications for immigration at its office in Tbilisi; the applications have already been forwarded to Jerusalem for expedited approval. On Sunday (Aug. 10), eight new immigrants from Georgia arrived at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel.

A building burns in the Georgian city of Gori after a Russian attack. Photo: Hans Poldoja

On Friday (Aug 8), the Jewish Agency set up a 24-hour hotline both in its Tbilisi office, for any Jews in the country requiring assistance or information, and in Jerusalem, so that family members in Israel can contact their relatives in Georgia. Scores of Georgians have phoned the information line in Tbilisi.

The Jewish Agency director for the former Soviet Union has been dispatched to Georgia to provide assistance to the Jewish community. The director, Alex Katz, is currently in Gori, in an attempt to convince the three remaining Jewish families who did not evacuate with the group of 200 Saturday, to leave the city. The government of Israel, through Nativ, is also sending two consular representatives to Tbilisi. The Jewish Agency’s efforts in Georgia are conducted in coordination with Israel’s Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office.

There are an estimated 10,000 Jews living today in Georgia, the most of them in the capital city of Tbilisi and its environs. The Jewish Agency is providing transportation for families interested in meeting with Jewish Agency representatives in Tbilisi regarding their eligibility to move to Israel and is offering special absorption opportunities to entire households (three generations).

The Jewish Agency is also making available opportunities for Jewish youth from Georgia interested in Jewish Agency programs in Israel. Specifically, the Jewish Agency is offering children and young adults to come to Israel immediately for 10 days of summer camp and has opened places in its Sela program where high school students from the former Soviet Union study in Israel.

“The Jewish Agency, as a bridge between the State of Israel and the Jewish people in the Diaspora, will continue to do what it takes to assist Jewish communities in times of crisis,” said Jewish Agency Chairman Zeev Bielski. “This is a moment of pride for the Jewish Agency family and a moment that reinforces the sense of mutual responsibility between us, as Jews living in Israel, and Jewish people wherever they live in the world.”
 
For further information contact:

Jacob Dallal
Director of Public Relations and Marketing
Jewish Agency for Israel – North America
633 Third Ave., 21st floor, New York, NY 10017
Phone: 1-212-339-6064  Mobile: 1-646-644-1205  E-mail: jacobd@jafi.org

Or
Michael Jankelowitz
Liaison to the Foreign Press, Jewish Agency for Israel
Mobile: +972-52-6130220; 
Voice-mail: +972-2-620-2780
michaelj@jafi.org
website: www.jewishagency.org