This Passover story begins not with deliverance, but with danger. Danger that a precious elderly Jewish woman named Yunona has faced nearly her entire life.
When Yunona was just a baby, only one year old, her father was arrested by the Communists in Russia, imprisoned in a far-off gulag as an “enemy of the state.” Yunona’s family only heard from him once during those years, when while being transferred from one prison to another, he sneaked out a message on a scrap of cigarette paper to let his loved ones know he was still alive.
That was in 1937. A few short years later, World War II began. Yunona’s Jewish family – her mother, her grandmother, and little Yunona – forced to flee because of their Jewish faith, hid in basements, slept in abandoned subway tunnels, and finally escaped across the Caspian Sea. Living life on the run, Yunona remembers the hunger she felt, often only having the husks of buckwheat to eat.
Near the end of the war, Yunona’s father finally earned his release. But the girl didn’t see her father until 1949. To this day, she still recalls the fear she felt at meeting a man she had never really known.
But she also remembers the Jewish traditions her family followed – in secret, as the Soviets banned expressions of faith or worship. “My grandma managed to get matzah from somebody in a synagogue,” the 85-year-old woman says. She also remembers that her grandmother, who had saved her from the Nazis by carrying her to safety, “ran the house in a Jewish way.” Despite informants complaining that her grandmother cooked Jewish food, the faithful woman still made sure her granddaughter knew of their faith. Because of Communist restrictions, “the only Jewish holiday we would celebrate was Pesach (Passover).” And those Passover memories are dear to Yunona, all these decades later.
While many of her memories are hard – of hunger, of fear, of war – her memories of this holiday celebrating God’s deliverance of His people keep Yunona going.
And so do the gifts of The Fellowship’s faithful donors, who not only provide homecare for Yunona and her elderly husband, but provide the special foods so they can celebrate Passover with dignity and joy. Your gifts “arouse a feeling of deep gratitude, even tenderness, in me,” Yunona says, forever grateful for God’s deliverance brought on by loving friends like you.