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April 4, 2014     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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April 4, 2014

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PAGE 12A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, APRIL 4, 2014 By Ben Sales LOD, Israel (JTA)--Sit- ting in his sister's living room in this town outside Tel Aviv, Yuriy Yukhatskov says he's glad to be far from his home city of Kiev. Custom Print Marketing Invitations ~ Announcements Digital & Offset Printing Brochures & Booklets Direct Mail Services Forms & Let~rheads En e,o s 407-767-7110 205 North Street Longwood, FL 32750 .~ www.elegantprinting, net MentionThisAdand R*c~ve t8% Discount Yukhatskov, 44, says that what he sees as the pervasive anti-Semitism in Ukraine's capital would grow only worse with the country's recent unrest. He fears that last month's revolution could lead to a government unfriendly to Jews. Israel feels foreign to Yukhatskov, but he's grate- ful to be able to walk to synagogue wearing his kippah without enduring taunts or dirty looks. His only problem is that in two weeks, Israel might kick him out for being a Christian. is this issues? It's The Advertising Deadline: April 4, 2014 For Further Information Call 407-834-8787 Yukhatskov and his moth- er applied in 2011 to im- migrate to Israel and join his sister, who moved here in 2008. His mother was approved to immigrate, but things did not go as smooth- ly for Yukhatskov. One of his answers on Israel's extensive application for aliyah, or Jewish, put Yukhatskov in Israeli bureaucratic limbo, where he's been for nearly three years. The form asked for his na- tionality, home country and religion. Under nationality he wrote "Jewish." Under home country he wrote "Ukraine." And under reli- gion he wrote "Christian." Israel's Law of Return allows anyone with at least one Jewish grandparent to immigrate to the country. The only exceptions are Jews who have embraced another religion; Yukhatskov would be ineligible for aliyah if he were Christian. So based on his answer, Israel denied his aliyah application. Of course he's Jewish, Yukhatskov says, wearing a white-knit kippah and retelling his story as if he's gone through it countless times. He says he misunder- stood the form and thought the "religion" line referred to Ukraine's religion, not his own. "I didn't write that I was Christian," he said, his sister translating his Russian to Hebrew. "I didn't under- stand what they were asking me. I wrote automatically that I was Jewish, but that the religion of the country is Christianity." The Israeli Population and Migration Authority has refused to accept Yttkhats- kov's explanations, though it is allowing him to repeat the application process. Sabin Haddad, the au- thority's spokeswoman, wrote to JTA that Yukhats- kov "indicated on his aliyah form that he's a Christian" and that "the claim that this is a mistake is completely irrelevant." At least 400 would-be im- migrants from the former Soviet Union have made the same mistake as Yukhats- kov, according to Rabbi Seth Farber, the founder of Itim, an Israeli organization that guides people with religious status issues through the Israeli bureaucracy. Itim has aided Yukhats- kov, a professional photog- rapher, in his reapplication process. If he is denied again, the organization said it may petition the Supreme Court to review his case and change the aliyah form. "We realized there was a bigger, issue here that would affect a lot more people," Farber said. "There has to b~ a much deeper understanding between those wh() are in charge of aliyah and the local Jewish communities as to who is aliyah elil~ible." During the past three years, Yukhatskov has gone through a process he called "not even Soviet bu- reaucracy but even worse." Upon denying his applica- tion, Israeli consular of- ficials in Kiev told him he could come to Israel as a tourist and try to resolve the matter here. Yukhatskov has since come to Israel three times, starting the application from scratch and submit- ting it in Tel Aviv, this time writing "Jewish" as his religion. He attached a letter from one of Ukraine's chief rabbis, Moshe Azman, attesting to his Jewishness, Jewish practice and regular attendance in synagogue. Israeli Absorption Minister Sofa Landver also has sent a supporting letter to the Interior Ministry. After his most recent flight to Israel, in February, a passport control official questioned Yukhatskov in a private room and kept him waiting for four hours. "She asked, 'Why are you wearing a kippah? You're Christian,'" he recalled. "She turned on her com- Seven-year- HAIFA--Suffering from acute kidney failure, 7-year- old "Y" needed a new kidney to survive. When the Jorda- nian boy's parents learned that Rambam Health Care Campus had begun perform- ing pediatric transplants--a procedure not available in Jordan--they contacted the hospital: "Please help us by doing a kidney transplanta- tion on our son," they asked the Haifa-based hospital. That surgery took place just days ago. Rambam officials were surprised to receive the request. The first pediatric procedure at Rambam, which had pioneered adult kidney transplants in Israel, had taken place just a few weeks earlier, making Ram- ham only the second hos- pital in Israel and the only one in the country's north to do pediatric transplants. The surgery is not available at all in Jordan. Due to the immedi- ate danger to the child's life, approvals were pro- cessed quickly. "Y" came to Ramb~m shortly before surgery for presurgical examinations and tests. Tissue matches determined his mother was a suitable donor. Since he needed to undergo daily dialysis, he stayed at Rambam until the day of the surgery. Even though his parents had seven other children, both parents stayed with "Y" to see him through this life- saving procedure. On the day of surgery, his mother underwent a three-hour procedure per- formed by a multidisci- plinary t~am to remove one of her kidneys. Then a sec- ond multidisciplinary team transplarRed the kidney into Ben Sales/JTA Yuriy Yukhatskov has been trying to immigrate to Israel for three gears, but has been denied due to what he says is an error he made filling out a form. puter and said, 'You can't enter Israel.' I was in shock." Yukhatskov was admitted with a one-month tourist visa, two months shorter than the standard. He has since been allowed to stay until April 6, when he will have another interview regarding his application. He will be sent back to Kiev unless he is approved. Given the Interior Min- istry's previous refusals, Farber said, chances of approval this time are slim. "Here's a guy dealing with Kafkaesque bureaucracy," Farber said. "We want to fight. We're very interested in resolving the larger is- sue." Unable to work or take advantage of free Hebrew classes offered to immi- grants, Yukhatskov says he spends his days helping his mother and trying to glean what Hebrew he can from Israeli TV. While the process has exasperated him, he says he'd still rather be in Israel than back in Kiev. "I don't want to be disil- lusioned," he said. "I really want the story to end well finally, so I have a Chance to live here and be with the family. There's no other way." "Y" in a second three-hour procedure. Two days later "Y" and his mother reunited. "Y" is now in a regular pedi- atric hospital room becom- ing acclimated to his new life, no longer dependent on machines to stay alive. Soon he and his parents will return to Jordan. Currently Rambam is caring for 21 children in critical kidney failure and requiring dialysis. Most of these children will even- tually need kidney trans- plantation. Since Rambam began offering this proce- dure, it has been receiving requests on a daily basis from surrounding nations for the surgery. In addition, in the past year 600 children and adults from the Palestinian Au- thority have come to Ram- bam for avariety of simple to complex medical problems.