A Russian Jewish soldier whose sister lives in Israel has been taken captive in Ukraine, Ynet reported.
Sergey H., 31 years old and from St. Petersburg, was drafted into the Russian army at the end of September as part of the general draft. He did not have military training and had not previously served in the army. Prior to his enlistment in the army, Sergey, who does not have academic education, worked as a builder.
Sergey was immediately sent to the front lines as a private, and fell into captivity in the Lyman area, which the Ukrainian army had succeeded in retaking from the Russians.
Sergey's sister immigrated to Israel in April, two months after the war broke out. A second sister lives in Finland. Their mother died in St. Petersburg less than a year ago.
The sister who immigrated to Israel, Esther, said that she spoke to Ukraine's Chief Rabbi Moshe Reuven Asman, asking that he help her brother.
Rabbi Asman said that just before the holiday of Sukkot (the Festival of Tabernacles) began on Sunday evening, he held an emergency meeting with senior officials in Ukraine's special service, who are responsible for the issue of holding captives. Rabbi Asman offered to take custody of the Jewish soldier, as well as the other Jewish soldiers who may fall into captivity in Ukraine, and hopes to meet with Sergey in the near future.
According to Datali, a Russian-language Israeli site, nearly all of Sergey's company was killed, and the commander abandoned the unit and escaped towards Luhansk. Sergey survived by miracle but was caught by the armed Ukrainian forces on October 1. He was interrogated by the Ukrainians, who made contact with his sister Esther and sent her a video clip to prove that his health is good.
Journalist Shimon Breeman of Datali, who first reported on the issue, said that Rabbi Asman hopes to meet Sergey this week, adding that, "According to my information, the Jewish Russian who was taken into captivity is a unique case and the first of his kind."
"Prior to this there were thousands of Russian captives, but he is the first with documents to prove his Jewishness and also with a relative in Israel. He is not completely religious, but both he and his sister are Jews from their mother (their father is a Russian). This is a Jew who assimilated, without any Jewish education. His sister became religious in the St. Petersburg synagogue and today she lives near Jerusalem in a religious neighborhood. It was very hard to speak with his sister - she is suffering a real crisis, and she really needs help."