Holocaust survivors are among the thousands of Ukrainian Jews seeking refuge in Israel. They are now part of a mass Ukrainian refugee crisis that has seen almost 5 million flee their homes, including half of Ukraine’s children.
“You can imagine the atmosphere: nervous tension and an unpredictable destiny,” said Zinovii Lekarev, a Holocaust survivor and current refugee from Kharkiv. “What can one expect other than being murdered?”
Although forced flight is a nightmare for many fleeing Ukrainians, Jewish refugees have hope for the future.
“Almost all the buildings around us burned down,” said Liudmyla Polunova, a Jewish refugee who fled Mariupol. “It was a miracle that our building didn’t burn. You understand, when a mortar hits a building, it starts a fire and there are no means to extinguish the fire. There is no water in the city.”
Aliona Grossu, CEO of the Jewish Community of the Republic of Moldova, which borders Ukraine, said when they heard about the war, they knew the world would never be the same.
“So from this day we have started organizing a rescue operation for the members of the Jewish communities from Ukraine,” he said. “Here with the Jewish community, with all the organizations, we built an opportunity to have places for the people to sleep, to eat and to be in a safe, warm place.”
The Jewish Agency determines the eligibility of refugees to emigrate to Israel, the Foreign Ministry provides them with travel documents and then the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews books them on charter flights. The refugees can choose if they want to go to Israel or elsewhere in Europe. Israel’s emergency medical service, Magen David Adom, also has a team to treat the fleeing refugees.
During their transit time in Moldova, refugees are housed at guest houses and hotels in and around Kishinev. That’s where CBN News met Holocaust survivor Zinovii Lekarev, who crossed the border after he turned 86 on March 16.
“I didn’t have a birthday,” he said. “There was bombing and shelling. That’s why I was at home. Two rocket explosions happened about 50 to 60 meters from our house. We were at home. These were frightful explosions. Everything shook. The entire nine-story building was shaking. That’s when I decided to leave. It brought back scary memories.”
–Lee Hartman | Metro Voice