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Ukrainian Jewish Refugees in Need, Now Stuck in Belarus

The following is via Rabbi Benjamin & Avital Goldschmidt, of the Altneu Synagogue in NYC.

Taking refuge at the Pinsk Girls Dormitory in Pinsk, Belarus
Meet Masha, Sonya, Miriam, and their friends. Just a week ago, these girls were living normal lives, attending school in Kyiv, part of the thriving Jewish community led by the young rabbinic couple Rabbi Itzchak and Rebbetzin Naomi Kozlov, members of the Karlin Hasidut. Never could they imagine that one day, they would be fleeing for their lives — the Kozlov family, leading a dozen of their teenage students and a group of Jewish families on a precarious journey across the border.
A lone girl sitting on a couch in the Pinsk Girls Dormitory
“Many of us left family members behind in Kyiv and throughout the country.”
As Naomi wrote to Avital:“Against all odds, we managed to find a bus which we had to pay top dollar for. (Most bus companies were shut down and too scared to travel.)We ran as a community in one bus and ten cars together, traveling over Shabbat to save our lives. Many of the roads were blocked. We first tried fleeing to Moldova, but the Ukrainians weren’t letting us out because they wanted all men aged 18 to 60 to enlist in the war.

The Belarusian border was not guarded, as the Russians were coming in from there, but even trying to get to the Belorusian border was almost impossible. On the way, we witnessed many tanks and open fires. As we got to one more roadblock, someone finally figured out a different way to escape through a road in the forest. The bus driver refused to go that way out of fear, so one family was courageous enough to go ahead alone, and then gave the signal for the rest of us to follow. It took hours to get through the border. As we arrived safely into Belarus, we kept witnessing tanks and soldiers shooting rockets at Ukraine…many of us left family members behind in Kyiv and throughout the country.”

Now, this group of Jews finds itself in Pinsk, Belarus; because they fled without much warning, with just the clothing on their backs, many of them don’t have clothes and basic necessities. Whatever cash they had was used for bribes, and their credit cards are all blocked.
Rabbi and Rebbetzin Kozlov, standing on a beach
Rabbi & Rebbetzin Kozlov

We are committing to help these young Jews, giving directly to Rabbi and Rebbetzin Kozlov to support their students’ basic daily needs — housing, food, and clothing — as they decide where to rebuild their lives.

You can support this endeavor by clicking the donate button below — please select “Jewish refugee effort” when making a donation.

Click here to donate

Click here for other Jewish NGOs distributing aid and resources to Ukrainian Jewish refugees

About the author

Dani Klein

Dani Klein founded YeahThatsKosher in 2008 as a global kosher restaurant & travel resource for the Jewish community.

He is passionate about traveling the world, good kosher food / restaurants, social media & the web, technology, hiking, strategy games, and spending time with his friends & family.