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|Giving candy to Jewish orphans in Tikva orphanage|
|Slippery roads make it hard to drve|
|David Vandeputte, rabbi Shlomo Wilhelm and Koen in front of Jewish orphanage Alumin in Zhitomir|
|A 'sea' of snow|
|Trying to reach Kiev...|
|A snowplow stuck in the snow|
|Peasch in Bratslav|
We undertook a few successful trips with olim families from Khmelnitsky and Irpen before the Jewish Easter. David and Ben Vandeputte joined us for a short work visit, to learn more about the work of Tikva in Odessa, and Alumim in Zhitomir with Jewish orphans. Both David and Ben previously worked as volunteer bus drivers for ‘Help the Jews come Home’, and are well acquainted with the situation.
All went well on the road from Kiev to Odessa (500 kilometers) until we failed to notice a deep pothole. We were concerned that the front axle had been damaged but all was well. We received a warm welcome from rabbi David Brodman’s son and grandson. Michael Brodman gave us the latest news about Jewish orphans that were ‘discovered’ and brought to safety in the Tikva orphanage. Some of them will be make aliyah in the coming months, with a Jewish Agency program. It gives us great joy that Jacob’s children will be returning home to stay.
Thereafter we drove in the direction of Vinnitsa, when my wife phoned to inform us that more than half a meter of snow had fallen in large parts of the country. We could not believe it because it was not snowing in Odessa. But driving the 170 kilometers from Uman to Vinnitsa was, indeed, difficult. A punishing northern wind made it virtually impossible to leave the car, unless it was absolutely necessary to, for instance, visit the bathroom! One should stay off these roads at night unless it is absolutely necessary. That is true but not always practical.
After a lovely meal and a good night’s rest, we drove to Zhitomir for a meeting with rabbi Shlomo Wilhelm who, with the assistance of dedicated team, takes care of more than fifty Jewish orphans. Then it was time for a three hour trip to Kiev. On the way we found dozens of trucks parked alongside the road while others were almost blocking the way. This did not look good.. We stopped to ask what the problem was. An emotional group of drivers quickly assembled to tell us that they had been stranded for more than 24 hours, and that the road was completely blocked off and impassable eighty kilometers from Kiev.
What now? But, what if we decide to make a ‘brief’ six hour detour via Komsomolsk – Belya Cherkov to Kiev? This means taking a narrow road through Kiev. Although everybody tried to dissuade us, we choose to give it a go. It had to be better than spending a night in the car.
The road was clear beyond expectation, although we drove between a wall of snow for long stretches in the dark. We encountered a total of only ten vehicles on the road. It was like driving through the Red Sea with the Lord preceding us. We arrived safely, but much later than planned, in Kiev shortly after midnight,. And Ben and David could return to The Netherlands, ‘timeously’, after a good night’s rest.
I shared this story with Jewish people with whom we had the opportunity to celebrate Pesach or the exodus in the different villages. The LORD remains faithful to His People, and will never forsake His children. And all Jewish people, regardless of their age, agree with this.
More pictures: www.facebook.com/c4israel