This NGO is making sure Kyiv’s Righteous Among The Nations don’t go hungry

 
Righteous Among the Nations in Kyiv.
(photo credit: FROM THE DEPTHS)

Of the 2,673 Ukrainian Righteous Among The Nations honored by Yad Vashem for their role in saving the lives of Jews during the Holocaust, only 17 are still living, all in their late 80s and 90s.

WARSAW – A Jewish organization has decided to make sure that 17 surviving Righteous Among The Nations who live in Ukraine are provided with food, medicine and any other needs.

They haven’t left the country because of their age and medical health, but the organization wants to ensure they live respectably even though they now live in a warzone.

Margarita Yakovleva, working with “From the Depths”, told The Jerusalem Post from Kyiv via video-chat that “Many of the Righteous Among The Nations had no food, mainly bread and fresh foods,” Yakovleva said.

“It felt a bit scary on the streets of Kyiv,” she said. “The families of the Righteous were very hungry so I bought them a bunch of food:  bread, meat, wine and more dry products,” she said. “Most of them had a bit of food, some had no food.”

“It’s very difficult to find bread in Kyiv, so I went to the Jewish store and bought them kosher bread and meat”.

Righteous Among the Nations in Kyiv. (credit: FROM THE DEPTHS)

“The daughters of one of the ‘Righteous’ are very traumatized. They told me that only now are they starting to understand that their grandparents were so heroic during the Holocaust. Because they are young people who didn’t have such an experience they now are taking strength from their grandparents who have been in these types of situations in the past.”

Do any of them want to leave?

“One family said to me that they want to go to Europe. But now they’re stuck and can’t get out.”

Righteous Among the Nations in Kyiv. (credit: FROM THE DEPTHS)

Founder of “From the Depths” Jonny Daniels told the Post Wednesday that “For people in their nineties to leave is a difficult and stressful process. Many have family members fighting so we can’t expect them to just pick up and leave. Yet, if they decide to leave, we will assist them in any way we can to move to a safe place with their families.”

Daniels added that “The Righteous are the rocks of their families. They are now the ones who are consoling their children and grandchildren. In my view, the Jewish people must assist them in any way possible. They did so much for us, now is the time for the Jewish people to give back to them.”

Of the 2,673 Ukrainian Righteous Among The Nations honored by Yad Vashem for their role in saving the lives of Jews during the Holocaust, only 17 are still living, all in their late 80s and 90s, spread across Ukraine.

“We knew we had to act fast and decisively to ensure that we have every possible chance to be of assistance to these heroes, just as they were to us,” said Daniels.

In addition to the title, the Righteous are also given honorary citizenship in the State of Israel, which entitles them to make aliyah.

Nina Bogorad is 97 years old, the oldest living Ukrainian Righteous of the Nations. In 1942, at the age of 17, she brought home a young wounded Ukrainian soldier who had escaped from the Germans twice. His situation worsened and she wanted to take him to the underground doctors, but he refused, explaining to her that in addition to being in the underground, he was also a Jew, and could be given up by anyone. Understanding the incredible risks involved in harboring a Jew, she did so anyway.

During the time of sanctuary and convalescence, they fell in love and married after the war. She was recognized as one of the Righteous Among The Nations by Yad Vashem in 1992. Today Bogorad lives in Kyiv and has family in Ukraine, Israel and the United States.

"It’s been remarkable to see such a tremendous outpouring of willing to help from all around the world, but there is still so much more we can do and need to do for all those who managed to escape and also those who are still in Ukraine," said Daniels. 

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