Tatiana, 70, still remembers observing Jewish tradition as a child, even during the harsh years of Soviet rule. She continues to inspire her family – her daughter, Lyuba, and grandchildren, Anton, 19, and Augusta, 12 – to hold onto their faith. She is the reason they frequently participate in Kiev’s Jewish community.
“In the 1950s and 60s my grandfather used to sneak out to the synagogue at night to get matzah for Passover,” said Tatiana. “He couldn’t do it openly, so he used to cover the matzah with a pillowcase. As children, we used to lean out the window of our basement apartment and wait for him to come back.”
This commitment to Jewish life was passed down to Augusta and Anton. They both studied at Kiev’s Jewish school, where Tatiana is often invited to speak about Jewish life in Kiev before the war. Both siblings serve as active members of the Jewish community, and Anton is a madrich (counselor) at community events.
Unfortunately, the family’s home life is not as warm as their life in the community. Lyuba and her husband divorced years ago, and he does not support the family in any way. “He ignores the court order and doesn’t pay alimony,” said Tatiana. “In any other country he would be put in jail, but Ukraine isn’t just and we can’t do anything about the fact that he disregards his duties.”
With no help from the father, the family struggles financially. Lyuba has had to stop working to take care of Tatiana, who suffers from hypothyroidism and heart problems. Two unsuccessful leg surgeries left her unable to walk for some time. “Her legs were swollen to enormous size because the surgeon didn’t fix the vessels properly,” said Lyuba.
The family does have some hope, though. The children are both very talented in the arts and sciences, which has helped them cope with their financial troubles. Augusta plays piano, takes Taekwondo, and is a talented artist. Anton recently received a scholarship to study math at Kiev University. “This was a huge gift for us,” said Tatiana, as the family cannot afford to pay tuition on their own.
The Fellowship has been a major part of the family’s life for many years now. “My own mother had a stroke, and I wouldn’t have been able to take care of her without The Fellowship,” said Tatiana.
The Fellowship continues to help Tatiana’s family today, providing Augusta with a food card. “The Fellowship gives me a sense of stability. I always know that by a certain date of every month I will be able to buy certain food, like chicken and olives,” says Lyuba.
“It’s a miracle,” adds Tatiana. “It’s a pity that my parents, who passed away long ago, couldn’t see the help The Fellowship gives us.”
In addition to a food card, The Fellowship helps the family purchase medicine, clothing, and footwear. They all feel very blessed and have discovered new hope since placing their trust in The Fellowship.