Mother Reunited with IDF Officer Son Amid Wave of Ukrainian Aliyah

ISRAEL – A mother and son were reunited at Ben-Gurion Airport last week amid a wave of 260 new olim (immigrants) from the Ukraine. Tatiana Popovich (49) made aliyah from the small town of Bar, and was eager to reunite with her son, Maxim, who made aliyah to Israel several years ago to serve in the army (Israel Defense Forces).

“My son has been serving in the IDF as an officer and as a combat soldier for the past two years, and there are no words to describe how overcome I am with emotion,” she said as she reunited with her now 26-year-old son at the airport.

Tatiana Popovich (49) made aliyah from the small town of Bar, and was eager to reunite with her son, Maxim, who made aliyah to Israel several years ago to serve in the army (Israel Defense Forces).

Maxim, who currently serves as an officer in the Etzioni Brigade of the Engineering Corps, made aliyah at the age of 22 after earning a bachelor’s degree in law.

“I decided I had a strong desire to move to Israel,” he explained. “Life in Ukraine was full of antisemitism and rife with economic problems, so I decided to move to Israel. My family, especially my mother, has supported me from the beginning.”

“I was very pleased that Maxim chose to move to Israel,” Tatiana said. “I too, on many occasions, have encountered antisemitism in Ukraine, and to me it means that we have no future there. Today, when I see my son as a soldier and an IDF officer, I am full of pride and assurances that living here in Israel is the right thing for him and for me.”

However, while he is happy to be reunited with his mother, Maxim still worries for the rest of his family.

“My father and brother are still living in Ukraine, as are my grandparents,” he said. “It is not possible for all my family members to make aliyah at this instant, but I really hope that we will be able to bring the rest of the family to Israel very soon. I impatiently await their arrival.”

The wave of olim arrived throughout last week in a series of flights organized by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.

The Fellowship’s president, Yael Eckstein, said: “Family reunification is a special and exciting occasion that does not happen every day. It is even more exciting to see a combat soldier who is reunited with his mother and who will now able to finish his IDF service while knowing that someone close and dear is waiting for him at home here in Israel. We are immensely proud of our immigrants and happy to bring them and their families to Israel.”

Eighty of the new olim will be taken in to Haifa, while Nahariya and Netanya will get 15 each and Bat Yam and Rishon Lezion will get 13 each.

Of the new olim, 57 were children under the age of 18, including one only six months old, while the oldest oleh was aged 85.

The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship) was founded in 1983 to promote better understanding and cooperation between Christians and Jews and build broad support for Israel. Today it is one of the leading forces helping Israel and Jews in need worldwide — and is the largest channel of Christian support for Israel. Founded by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, The Fellowship now raises more than $120 million per year, mostly from Christians, to assist Israel and the Jewish people. Since its founding, The Fellowship has raised more than $1.6 billion for this work. The organization has offices in Jerusalem, Chicago, Toronto and Seoul. For more information, visit

Yael Eckstein is the president of the International Fellowship of Christian and Jews. As President, Eckstein oversees all ministry programs and serves as the organization’s international spokesperson. She can be heard on The Fellowship’s daily radio program airing on 1,500 stations worldwide. Before her present duties, Yael served as global executive vice president, senior vice president, and director of program development and ministry outreach. Based in Jerusalem, Yael is a published writer, leading international advocate for persecuted religious minorities, and a respected social services professional. As President of The Fellowship, she also holds the rare distinction of being a woman leading one of America’s largest religious not-for-profit organizations.

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