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Biblical understanding about Israel

May 17, 2017

Ukraine’s Jews walk narrow line between murderous past and uncertain future

By Sue Surkes.. As Ukrainian PM Volodymyr Groysman winds up a three-day visit to Israel, Jews back home try to cope with economic difficulties and the effects of war. ODESSA, Ukraine — At two years of age, Masha cannot walk yet, although she has learned to sit and stand. When she arrived at the Tikva foster home in Odessa six months ago, she could not even hold her head. Since then, she has had four epileptic fits. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets speaks alongside Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman (L) at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on May 15, 2017. (Kobi Gidon/GPO)

When her mother went to hospital to give birth, doctors said she needed a Caesarean section. But they would only operate if she paid them the usual bribe. The mother — so poor that she lived with 11 others in a single, filthy room — did not have the cash. It was only when Masha was starting to choke in the womb that hospital staff agreed to carry out the surgery. 

Children at Tikva's kindergarten preparing materials for the Jewish festival of Lag B‘Omer, Odessa, Ukraine, May 12, 2017. (Photo Sue Surkes)

Although it is too early to tell how Masha will fare — neurosurgeons say she has not sustained brain damage — she is lucky to have been rescued and brought to a place with around the clock care, along with her brother Mishka, one and a half, who came to Tikva with a lung infection but is now developing normally.

Weathered Jewish gravestones above the tomb of Nathan, Rabbi Nachman‘s disciple, Bratslav, Ukraine, May 10, 2017. (Sue Surkes)

The two were discovered by Tikva social workers as they lay seriously ill in a hospital. They were on their way to a state orphanage. Masha just lay in bed, not moving.

Their father is an alcoholic. Their mother, who is thought to be mentally ill, is pregnant again.

Christians for Israel food parcels waiting to be delivered in Ukraine, May 10, 2017. (Sue Surkes)

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Natasha Kryzhanovsky, a Christians for Israel fieldworker, looks at photographs of some of the 2,800 Ukrainian Jews who have passed through the organization’s shelter on their way to Israel, May 4, 2017, Ukraine. (Sue Surkes)

Koen Carlier (L), aliyah fieldworker of Christians for Israel in Ukraine, and Pim van der Hoff, CFI vice chairman, in Odessa, Ukraine, May 12, 2017. (Sue Surkes)

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