From War-ravaged Georgia to a Jordan Valley Kibbutz

Georgian Jewish family says they previously thought of making aliyah, but not under such circumstances.

The Mamashvili family - Vazha, 39, Irina, 29, and their two children - arrived on Thursday from Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, and went directly to their new home in Kibbutz Massada in the Jordan Valley. Both the parents and the children, 3-year-old David and 8-year-old Nicolazh, said they were very excited to be here. They had thought previously about immigrating to Israel, the parents said, but not under such circumstances.

"They arrived in Israel with nothing, empty-handed. Even the few suitcases they managed to take were lost at the airport," said a kibbutz member responsible for the new immigrants.

Moreover, Vazha left his parents and brothers behind and is worried about them, though he says they are all right.

The children have already been placed in educational frameworks. However, the family had time Thursday afternoon to take a walk around the kibbutz and enjoy the playground. It all made the last few difficult nights seem very far away.

Even the oppressive heat did not seem to bother them. "It's hot in Georgia, too," said Vazha.

But in Georgia, bombs have fallen every night for the last week near their house in a Tbilisi suburb. The bombs were meant for a military factory nearby.

The parents therefore decided to leave home, quickly. "I worried about the children," Vazha said, explaining the speed with which they decided to come to Israel.

They had planned to come to Israel later this year in any case, they said, but recent events hastened the move. "Monday, Jewish Agency emissaries came and told us to go to the embassy and arrange the paperwork. We did everything fast and left everything behind. We came to the embassy, boarded a bus, and from there to the airport," Vazha said.

Vazha worked in Georgia as a railroad engineer and Irina worked in child care. But their first goal here, they said, is to learn the language. "Meanwhile, they are treating us very well," Vazha said.