Deliverance from Anti-Semitism
The Fellowship | October 16, 1999
With the help of The Fellowship, Olena and Oleksandr made aliyah (immigrated to Israel), along with their daughter Anna and their two grandchildren, Sofiia, 11, and Anton, 2.
The family living in the city of Mariupol, Ukraine, which is located close to Donetsk. There, Olena and Oleksandr, along with local residents of the city, had been coping with emergency situations and war for more than five years.
“The authorities told us to stock the storeroom under the house with food, a first aid kit, blankets and other items in case of a bombing,” Olena says. “I remember there were incidents of shelling in the middle of the night, in the dark, and we would go down there with my granddaughter. I thought about the Holocaust and about the Jews who had to hide. During such moments, I constantly thought to myself that if there was a direct hit on our home, it would simply collapse. Thankfully, that didn’t happen.”
Olena says her friends were injured during the shelling and other neighbors’ homes were damaged. “Our house was also damaged, mainly by the shelling. We had to repair the roof and, from time to time, the windows that were shattered. The reality of the last few years has been simply unbearable.”
War was a new reality the family had to get used to. “We saw the City Hall building burning. We saw the airport being bombed. There was shooting and shelling everywhere. We were helpless. We didn’t know what to do and how to go on continue living.
“We couldn’t make aliyah at that time because my husband’s mother was very old and sick. We stayed with her until her last days and took care of her. Six months ago, when she died, we decided to make aliyah.
“We always thought that when we would make aliyah, we would sell our home, and it will be easier for us to start our lives in Israel. Unfortunately, we were forced to make aliyah with only the clothing on our backs. The assistance of The Fellowship has helped us greatly. We are very grateful for it. Our pensions were also very low due to the economic situation in Ukraine in recent years. When tax payments and the prices in supermarkets skyrocketed, it became very hard for us to make ends meet.”
Thanks to Fellowship friends, Israel is now home for this family — a place where they can feel safe and enjoy freedom. “In Israel, we don’t need to feel embarrassed or hide the fact that we’re Jews. We can celebrate the holidays and live a Jewish life without shame.”