Sitting in Tbilisi Airport, we were wondering if we would land in time for the first seder
Then we moved towards Russia, together with another Mariupol Jewish family, that of Maxim Shishlov, who was wounded during shelling. My in-laws drove us to the border, we walked across it, and on the other side there was a bus waiting for us, sent by the Jewish community of Rostov. We were shocked, in a good sense of the word, by how generous they were with both emotional and material support. They kept asking us if we needed something, anything - clothing, medicine, what not.
Many Russians also know what’s going on, but they are just sighing that they can’t do anything, can’t affect anything. If we mentioned that we got out of Mariupol - in the store, for example, — some people commiserated with us, but then added that everything is for the best, that the city will be rebuilt, and so on. I didn’t even argue with those. You can rebuild the city, can you bring back the people?
We went in a roundabout way, and came to Israel just before Passover. There were about 90 of us sitting in Tbilisi Airport, wondering if we would land in time for the first seder. We did. I thought then that our journey was very symbolic, that we kinda had an Exodus of our own.
When we landed, there were tears in my eyes. My parents arrived the day before — they got out through Moldova, we couldn’t get in touch with them. Turned out they took the bus towards Berdyansk before we did. People are still coming over - I keep seeing new faces in our hotel.
I am so grateful to our rabbi, Menahem-Mendel Cohen, he’s done so much for the community, and he keeps helping to evacuate people.
They received us so warmly here in Israel, the day we arrived, the Minister of Absorption herself came to our hotel. She spoke to everyone, asking how she could help. That made us feel so welcome.
But my memories still leave me shaking and shivering.