Bomb damage in Ukraine
Bomb damage in Ukraine Shutterstock

One of the many stories to emerge from the war raging in Ukraine is that of an elderly Jewish lady, 92 years of age, who lives in Kyiv, Ukraine's capital.

Rachel was a young girl in 1941 when the Nazis invaded Ukraine; the bombings now take her back to those terrible years. She succeeded in fleeing from Kyiv on the very last train to leave. Virtually every Jew who was left behind was murdered by the Ukrainians along with the Nazis, at the site known as Babyn Yar.

In the current war, she has also been forced to flee, this time from Russian bombs. During the first days of the conflict, she was taken to a hotel in Anatevka, a Jewish refugee village, run by Rabbi Moshe Asman, the Chief Rabbi of Ukraine. However, this week she was evacuated once again together with other refugees in a convoy organized by Rabbi Asman. The group of Jews has now reached the border, hopefully well away from the front lines, with many predicting that the situation is about to deteriorate significantly.

In video documentation compiled by Rabbi Asman, the rabbi can be seen encouraging the refugees and trying to lift their spirits. "This precious lady was forced to flee from the Nazis," he says, "and she managed to get onto the last train out of the city - it was a tremendous miracle. Everyone who was left behind in Kyiv was murdered by the Nazis [sic.] Now she is being forced to flee again, this time from the Russians. Unbelievable.

"And she is not the only one," Rabbi Asman adds. "Every day we help hundreds of people, many of them elderly Jews who have not had easy lives, Holocaust survivors - and now all the memories come back to them, the fear, even the smell of smoke takes them back to those terrible years."

Rabbi Asman describes the "massive project we have undertaken to rescue the Jews of Ukraine, Jews who are literally hungry for bread. Every day I get dozens of phone calls from people who are literally in tears, begging for me to help them, to get food to their children or their wives who are trapped at home and afraid to go out because of the bombings. People need food, they need medication. If you can help," Rabbi Asman appeals, "then call *3770 to our emergency helpline. Your help is what keeps us going."