On Thursday, as part of its first-ever chartered humanitarian aid flight to assist Ukrainian refugees in Moldova, United Hatzalah airlifted 160 refugees back to Israel. Some held Israeli citizenship, some came via the right of return, and some had decided to immigrate to Israel and make it their permanent home.
One such woman, Raisa, a 90-year-old Holocaust survivor who has difficulty walking, was living on her own in Odessa. Her son had passed away two years ago due to illness. Her only remaining family was three granddaughters all of whom live in Israel. When the fighting broke out and people fled the city, her granddaughters reached out to United Hatzalah and asked them to help save their grandmother’s life. Rabbi Hillel Cohen, Director of United Hatzalah in Ukraine arranged for an ambulance to bring her to the Moldovan border where she met United Hatzalah’s volunteers who brought her food and clothing and checked her medical status. On Wednesday, she was brought to a shelter in Chisinau run by the local Jewish community. Early Thursday morning, together with other Ukrainian refugees, she was brought by bus to the Iasi airport in Romania, where she boarded a flight to come back home to Israel to be reunited with her granddaughters.
“When the plane arrived in Israel, there were a lot of tears,” said Vice President of Operations Dov Maisel who accompanied the refugees for the return trip. “I’ve seen my fair share of disaster zones and I don’t get emotional easily, but seeing Raisa reunited with her granddaughters brought me to tears as well.”
“What happened here was a miracle,” said Michal, one of Raisa’s granddaughters. “Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”