The fighting in Ukraine has been going on for almost 90 days, wreaking havoc and despair throughout the country.
The magnitude the catastrophe has yet to be revealed. However, some of the terrible results are already hitting close to home in Jewish communities across the country.
Poverty and hunger has become common among huge swaths of the working age population, men and women who have lost their livelihood and incomes.
There is a severe shortage of medicine due to a lack of new imports, the cessation of local manufacturing, and a lack of means to purchase what is, in fact, available. Life-saving medications — and regular medications too — are simply out of reach for many Ukrainians.
The Shluchim throughout the country have been working tirelessly to alleviate the crisis, with the help of “International Fellowship of Christians and Jews”. Meals are provided daily for thousands of men and women. Tens of thousands of food packages are distributed to needy families, and medications are somehow obtained from neighboring countries such as Poland and Moldova, saving countless lives.
The greatest challenge facing Chabad rabbis is the children, the war orphans, whose parents have been killed or injured in the course of the fighting, or whose families have fallen apart during these difficult months. The Mishpacha Orphanage of Chabad in Odessa has become famous since it moved its 120 children to Berlin at the outset of the war, saving them from the difficult experiences of wartime. Now, as the crisis continues to grow, the orphanage continues to be a warm home for the war orphans and a source of assistance and guidance for countless people affected by the war.
Just in recent days, the orphanage has welcomed four new children to its ranks.
The oldest among them is Misha from Irpin, a city which experienced horrific war crimes. With the help of Chabad rabbis, Misha and his mother managed to escape, but the difficult wartime experience affected the mother so profoundly that she lost her ability to care for her child — and she abandoned him in Poland.
Mishpacha Orphanage came to the boy's rescue, and now, the 12-year-old Misha has found 120 new friends in the orphanage's temporary home in Berlin.
Yesterday, another child was brought to Rabbi Avraham Wolff, who founded Mishpacha Orphanage together with his wife, Chaya. This young boy's name is Anton, and he's just a year and a half old. His mother died in the war, and the court granted guardianship to Rabbi Wolff, who is currently in the process of producing a passport for the young child so that he could join the orphanage in Berlin.
"Unfortunately, sights of orphaned and abandoned children are becoming increasingly common throughout the country,” says Rabbi Wolf, who remains with his community in Odessa. “Thank God, we are set up to handle them and transport them to safer locations.
"My colleagues, Chabad rabbis throughout Ukraine, know about our orphanage and they're constantly calling us, asking us to receive more children. We do our best to accommodate every single child with a warmth and sensitivity they need."
Mrs. Chaya Wolf remains with the children in Berlin. "Anton," she says, "the child my husband received today, will be joining the 124 children of our orphanage — four of which came to us just recently from war torn Ukraine. Unfortunately, a number of them underwent experiences which necessitate significant psychological and psychiatric treatment; we do not yet know the severity of the traumas they experienced
“We are doing — and will continue to do — everything in our power help them heal and return to a semblance of normal life. I'm happy we have the opportunity to give these children — who experienced hell on earth — a new lease on life, and a renewed hope for a better future.”
For more information: Mishpacha Orphanage
This article was written in cooperation with Mishpacha Orphanage