Recently, United Jewish Federation of Stamford, New Canaan, and Darien held a parlor meeting to update community members on the ongoing war in Ukraine and the resettlement of refugees in Israel.
Gayle and Howard Rothman hosted over 50 guests who were eager to learn about the continuous efforts of UJF and its partners, as Howard shared his first-hand experience from when he traveled to the Ukraine border over a year ago. At that time, he had also flown with a plane of immigrants from Ukraine to Israel. The Rothmans felt it was both an honor and a privilege for them to host guest speakers Natalie Shnaiderman, with The Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) and Lena Ivanova, a resettled Ukrainian. Shnaiderman recently rejoined JAFI as Director of Strategy and Resource Development in the Aliyah and Absorption Unit.
Natalie is responsible for planning and managing the process of resource development, including mapping of development trends and markets’ assessment for the programs and services offered by the Aliyah and Absorption Unit. She explained the involvement of JAFI at the beginning of the Ukraine war and its continued involvement to this day.
Ivanova is one of thousands of young Ukrainian mothers who were brought to safe refuge in Israel with their children by JAFI in the days and weeks following the outbreak of the war in Ukraine. She was born in Odessa and graduated from the Odessa State Economic University, where she met her future husband Aleksander. In Ukraine, Ivanova worked at a large international bank. After a short time, she and her husband decided to start their own men’s and women’s clothing business, and their company, SHA Odesa, is still operating. Just before the war, they started selling their merchandise abroad.
During the war, Ivanova left Ukraine for Israel without her husband, who was eventually able to join his wife and children in Israel and the family now lives in Jerusalem.
“The work of the Jewish Agency and its impact on those in need and the firsthand experience of Lena and her family, along with my own personal experience, will be with me forever,” shared Howard Rothman.
This article appears in the June edition of The New Jewish Voice. To receive The New Jewish Voice newspaper delivered free to your home, sign-up today at www.ujf.org.