The Only Jewish Girl in the Village

The Fellowship  |  March 9, 2022

Elderly Jewish woman, Varvara, who as a Jewish girl was left alone in her Ukrainian village
(Photo: IFCJ)

Varvara remembers the Jewish traditions, from long, long ago. From before the Nazis. From before the Communists. From before the current war in Ukraine

She remembers observing the Sabbath as a child, sitting around the table with her family, singing Shabbat songs. Then the Communists overran Ukraine, and practicing the Jewish faith became forbidden. It would be decades before Varvara would again see Shabbat candles or hear Shabbat music.

When the Nazis invaded Ukraine, Varvara’s father and young husband were sent to the frontlines. “I was the only Jewish girl in the village,” she remembered, “and now I am the only Jewish woman.”

Today, 99-year-old Varvara still lives in the same Ukrainian village where she grew up. Still all alone.

Before the pandemic, Yael visited Varvara, bringing her food and help for the long, cold months. Yael also brought a Hanukkah menorah. She asked Varvara if she remembered this Jewish celebration from her long ago childhood.

“It sounds familiar, but the Communists wiped everything out,” Varvara said. “It was so long ago that I barely remember.”

But a smile spread across the elderly woman’s face when Yael told her that the food, the love, and the items to worship her Jewish faith all came from Fellowship friends across the globe.

“You really came from so far to bring me these beautiful things?” Varvara asked Yael.

And now, as Ukraine again faces upheaval and chaos, this Jewish girl left alone because of war, this Jewish woman left alone to a life of poverty, this precious child of God knows that she is not alone, because she has friends on the ground, caring for her basic needs, especially during times of trouble.

Your gift will let elderly Jewish people in Ukraine – many of them Holocaust survivors like Varvara – know that they are not alone.

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