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Towards the end of October our winter food parcel action for Jews in Ukraine started and together with volunteers from The Netherlands, Germany, Italy and for the first time from Ireland we packed and handed out two thousand food parcels.
This happened during a working trip where the participants learned about the “Holocaust by bullets”. For many people from Europe an unknown chapter from Ukraine’s Holocaust history when more than 1.7 million Jews were shot and buried in over 2,000 Jewish mass graves.
In total there were twenty-three participants plus drivers and interpreters for the translations from Russian into Dutch, German and English, quite a group. At our first meeting and a delightful meal Holocaust survivor Boris Zabarko gave us full account at the big ravine of Babi Yar.
The group from The Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Ireland
Everywhere in town the Jews were summoned through notice boards to collect at the Jewish cemetery and also near the railway station. They were told to bring the necessary documents, warm cloths and food for three days. There was rumour that the Jews were going to be transported and would be set to work or go to a safe place. But that was far removed from the truth.
Thousands set out on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) on September 29, 1941 and special German SS-troops and the local Ukrainian police were waiting for them. Escaping was virtually impossible. They had to undress and walk nakedly approximately one kilometre where the Jews were lined up in groups at the edge of the ravine. The rest is known.
Small aircraft circled above Babi Yar to muffle the gunfire to prevent informing the inhabitants of Kiev of this horrible massacre. In that way almost 34,000 Jews from Kiev were shot during the first three days, but in total more than 100,000 people were murdered at Babi Yar.
In the former Soviet Union it was forbidden to speak about the “Holocaust by bullets” but every Soviet citizen was obliged to celebrate the victory over Germany on the 9th of May every year. During the communist era the KGB picked up Holocaust survivors whenever they wanted to commemorate their relatives killed in the war at Babi Yar.
Holocaust survivor Boris Zabarko gave a full account of what happened at Babi Yar. For everyone it was an emotional and difficult moment to be there at the edge of the ravine. One of the German participants, Johannes Zink, who is a pastor asked forgiveness for what his people did in Ukraine to the Jews and we prayed out loud together too.
From the past we went to the future and at the Jewish Agency we received a full explanation about how Jews are assisted in work and deed and are assisted with their repatriation (in Russian: repatriactia) in cooperation with Christians for Israel and also about who does exactly what. High praise was given to our cooperation of many years’ standing and also about the special flight with more than 150 olim (immigrants) of September 1, 2016.
At the Jewish Agency for a full explanation
Since 1991, when the Iron Curtain fell, the exodus from the former Soviet Union “from the land of the north” started (see Jeremiah 16 and Zechariah 2). Most olim come from Ukraine and from that republic alone already 450,000 Jews came home!
In the last few years every year more than 6,000 Jews leave Ukraine. Also because of the war in the East every week Jews are leaving this area towards Israel and consider this as a safe haven!
Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles)
The working trip took place during the Feast of Tabernacles and as a surprise we had a most enjoyable gathering at the Jewish school in Kiev where Chief Rabbi Jonathan Markovitch and his wife Inna received us with open arms. We enjoyed kosher pastry, coffee and tea while a klezmer group played cheerful music.
Holding the lulav at the Feast of Tabernacles in the sukkah with Chief Rabbi Markovitch
In the meanwhile Chief Rabbi Markovitch gave us a full explanation about this important feast. Tired and with mixed feelings we drove to Vinnitsa with four minibuses in a four hour journey. On the way we stopped in Berdichev and were welcomed with a hot meal at the only Jewish baker, Rubin.
Enjoying the food in Chief Rabbi Markovich's sukkah
This winter 2016-2017 we plan - with your help - to pack and distribute thousands of food parcels for poor Jews, Holocaust survivors and Jewish refugees from Eastern Ukraine and also those close to and in the war zone of Eastern Ukraine via our local contacts and also on request from Jewish organisations!
Please support this year's food parcel project and donate.
1 foodparcel costs €10 or 11 US
$5 foodparcels cost €50 or 55 US $
20 foodparcels cost €200 or 220 US $
On behalf of the Jewish community in Ukraine: Thank you for your help!
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