Mazal Tov! We celebrated two birthdays at the ZAKA – Chabad Moldova Medical Complex in Kishinev for Ukrainian refugees who were both treated at the ZAKA and Chabad of Moldova complex. Both of their lives were saved thanks to their rescue, and in the coming days they will board a flight to Israel.
Yelena, a 98-year-old Holocaust survivor, arrived at the ZAKA – compound in Odessa. Yelena was born in a small town in Ukraine. During World War II, when she was 17, she was exiled to Kazakhstan with her parents. Miraculously, they survived the war and returned to Odessa, and Yelena fought to preserve Judaism under the Soviet regime. In recent years, she lived alone in Odessa until the war forced her to take shelter in her basement. “It brought me back to the dark days of World War II,” Yelena said.
A few days ago, she was brought to the aid compound set up in Kishinev by ZAKA with the help of Chabad of Moldova. She is receiving assistance and medical treatment until she emigrates to Israel on a special medical rescue flight.
Sergei, 68, is a homeless man. He was rescued from Mariupol several days before the city fell to the Russians. Sergei said through tears that he hid with other people for about two months underground without potable water, without electricity, and with very little food. They slept in the bitter cold and he did not know if he would survive another day.
Sergei was rescued and brought to the ZAKA – Chabad compound in Moldova, where he was given food and a comfortable place to sleep.
Today, when we celebrated his birthday, he was especially excited. Sergei told volunteers that they feel like a family to him – he couldn’t remember when he last celebrated his birthday, and he is very excited about immigrating to Israel in the coming days.
Nachman Dickstein, Deputy Commander of the ZAKA Ukraine and Director of the ZAKA Complex in Moldova, said “we were privileged to celebrate today 98-year-old Holocaust survivor Linnaeus from Odessa and 68-year-old Sergei from Mariupol,. There is a wonderful sense of family amidst all the pain and uncertainty”.