Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Breaking News

‘Wandering Israeli’ Woman Leaves Peru Airport After Being Stranded for 3 Weeks

— A 57-year-old woman dubbed “the wandering Israeli” by Peruvian media left Lima’s international airport after living in the arrivals area for 19 days and making headlines across the country.

Olga Babaev’s story was reported by Peruvian newspapers and TV channels, which likened it to Steven Spielberg’s film “The Terminal.” A nearly eight-minute broadcast Sunday followed her as she left the airport and visited a medical clinic visit, went on a sightseeing tour and called her son in the United States, whom she hadn’t seen for 22 years.

During her stay at the airport, which started when she landed May 29, the Israeli embassy in Lima offered her assistance, but Babaev refused it, according to consul Limor Sherman. A Peruvian Jewish institution offered her shelter, which she also refused.

“I don’t want to go back to Israel. I don’t have anyone there. Also, I have problems with my family name, which is not Jewish,” Babaev told El Comercio newspaper last week. “I want to go to a warm place.”

Peru is Babaev’s second stop in South America. After begging for food for two months in the streets of Rio, she was rescued by Jewish volunteers in May thanks to a rapid response initiated on Facebook. Soon after being taken to an upscale Jewish elder home, she decided to leave though. She was then given a one-way ticket to Lima by a local Jewish-owned travel agency.

Born in Azerbaijan, Babaev reportedly made aliyah in 1991. She said she had suffered discrimination in Israel as a presumed Russian immigrant. Her situation and plans since leaving the Lima airport are unknown.

On June 20, Peruvian banker and former prime minister Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, whose father was Jewish, was elected Peru’s president. A renowned pathologist and one of Peru’s leading public health administrators, his father fled Berlin in 1933 because his family was Jewish.

Peru is home some 3,000 Jews in a population of nearly 30 million.

 

A message from our editor-in-chief Jodi Rudoren

We're building on 127 years of independent journalism to help you develop deeper connections to what it means to be Jewish today.

With so much at stake for the Jewish people right now — war, rising antisemitism, a high-stakes U.S. presidential election — American Jews depend on the Forward's perspective, integrity and courage.

—  Jodi Rudoren, Editor-in-Chief 

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.