Ukrainian Holocaust survivors celebrate High Holidays in Israel for first time

Two Holocaust survivors who fled Ukraine following the Russian invasion have celebrated the High Holy Days in Israel.

 Lenna Pancheko. (photo credit:  Yad Ezer L’Haver/MA'ARIV)
Lenna Pancheko.
(photo credit: Yad Ezer L’Haver/MA'ARIV)

Two Holocaust survivors who fled Ukraine following the Russian invasion have celebrated the High Holidays in Israel. 

After leaving their hometowns during World War II, Holocaust survivors Lenna Pancheko and Svetlana Mugilovkin had to flee again, this time due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine

Svetlana Mugilovkin came to Israel following the invasion, saying: "I have survived World War II. I was eight years old when the war broke out in 1941. 

"The Germans came into the city, rounding up the Jews, shoved us into a pit near the water tower, and threw grenades at us. The Jews who were thrown last died, and we survived miraculously."

Speaking of the Russian invasion, she said that: "After the invasion this year, I had to endure the horrors of the Holocaust again. I have never seen such fear as I've seen today, being almost 90 years old. 

 Svetlana Mugilovkin, a Holocaust survivor Who made aliya from Ukraine. (credit:  Yad Ezer L’Haver/MA'ARIV) Svetlana Mugilovkin, a Holocaust survivor Who made aliya from Ukraine. (credit: Yad Ezer L’Haver/MA'ARIV)

"I am from the bombarded city of Kramatorsk. The hospital in the city was ruined the houses remain shuttered. I managed to escape, but my great-grandson had to stay in Ukraine due to the travel ban."

This year, she celebrated Rosh HaShana in Israel, with a Russian-speaking Chabad representative helping her. She said: "I participated in a tashlich ceremony on the beach alongside other olim. I heard the shofar and I was surrounded by good people.

"I was happy to celebrate Rosh HaShana in Israel, a warm safe haven for me."

"I was happy to celebrate Rosh HaShana in Israel, a warm safe haven for me."

Svetlana Mugilovkin

Lenna Pancheko's story

Lenna Pancheko, an 87-years-old, holocaust survivor said: "As the Germans invaded Ukraine in 1941, I was evacuated with my family from Odesa. It was November 2 and I remember it as if it was yesterday."

Last June, Pancheko was evacuated again from her home and came to Israel with her husband. initially, they stayed at a hotel provided by the Jewish Agency, and after it, they moved to a house of Yad Ezer L'Haver, courtesy of the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem.

She also said that "since I was a child in World War II, and the post-war period when Stalin was in charge, the religion was banned. Celebrating Rosh Hashana was an important step for me in returning to the Jewish tradition.