• At the airport just before leaving, together with many more Jewish men, women and young people leaving for Israel for good | Photo: Christians for Israel
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The captain is leaving

Koen Carlier - 9 September 2021

In the months July and August of 2021 nearly five hundred olim from Ukraine left for Israel for good. What did surprise us was that recently Pjotr and his wife Svetlana Raskovsky left for good as well. Together they were responsible for thirty years for the forty small Jewish communities in the provinces Kievskaya and Tjerkacci. Shortly before the fall of the Iron Curtain they were visited by a couple of Jewish families from the United States who told them: “You are free now, you don’t have to celebrate the Jewish holidays secretly anymore, you can do this openly now without fearing the KGB.” In the beginning Pjotr and his wife didn’t believe this after seventy years of communism during which especially the Jews in the Soviet Union were discriminated and antisemitism from the government was the most normal thing.

“You are free now, you don’t have to celebrate the Jewish holidays secretly anymore, but openly without fearing the KGB”

As time went by, they indeed tasted freedom. The Raskovsky family could normally celebrate and commemorate the Jewish Feasts and holidays. Then the idea was born to introduce this notion to the Jewish families living in remote shtetls and villages as well. We as Christians for Israel have for many years collectively supported a number of projects, like handing out food parcels, distributing meals, restoration of damaged monuments at the sites of Jewish mass graves. And when Pjotr heard that Jewish families wanted to make aliyah (emigrate to Israel) he contacted us.

Svetlana and Pjotr Raskovsky with in the middle Nataliyah Krishanovsky from our Ukrainian team | Photo: Christians for Israel

“How can I as captain of all these small Jewish communities abandon ship, no way!”

Years ago, we already suggested to Pjotr and Svetlana to leave for Israel. Then Pjotr got angry with us and answered: “How can I as captain of all these small Jewish communities abandon ship, no way!” Understandably of course, and we let it go.

So, we were surprised of course when Pjotr called us a couple of months ago and with a trembling voice told us: “We are now in our late seventies and decided to go home for good, where our children and grandchildren are too.” Pjotr immediately added: “Nobody will take over our work, but if you want to distribute food parcels regularly like you have been doing for years, we would appreciate that very much.”

Before their departure and in tears he thanked us for the many special years of cooperation. It reminded us of the Bible verse from Jeremiah 31:9a: “They will come with weeping; they will pray as I bring them back…” At the airport Pjotr said: “No goodbyes, but see you soon in Jerusalem!”

It is a strange feeling now that Pjotr and Svetlana are no longer in Ukraine, but we have promised them that we would not leave the small Jewish communities to their fate. Hopefully will many more Jewish people decide to go home for good and one day have a wonderful reunion with “their captain”.

Help the Jews come home!
Please support our action ‘Bring the Jews Home’.
It costs 135 euros or 165 US $ to assist one Ukrainian Jew for making aliyah.
Any amount is welcome!

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