• Left to right: Chief Rabbi Jacobs, Koen Carlier, Frank van Oordt, Roger van Oordt, David Vandeputte and Nick Vandeputte. | Photo: C4I

The Dutch Chief Rabbi Jacobs in Ukraine (1)

Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs - 23 March 2022

Monday. The first day of my visit to Ukraine. Mendel Cohen, who was once the rabbi of Mariupol, urged me to travel to Moldova, Romania and Ukraine. Since my friends at Christians for Israel also wanted me to go there, I agreed, and now I am on a plane to Iasi, a small airport in Romania close to the Moldovan border.

I am not sure what exactly I will be doing in Moldova, but I was assured that my presence will be valuable and constructive. We’ll see. I travel with Frank van Oordt, the director of Christians for Israel Netherlands, and Roger van Oordt, the honorary consul of Israel in the Netherlands. At Vienna Airport, David Vandeputtte, the chairman of Christians for Israel Belgium, joins us. After hours of driving on roads that were often extremely inaccessible, we arrive at the C4I shelter in Ukraine. This is the place where the refugees were and are received. The tricky thing about this report is that I can’t be too specific. Everything is close to the war zone and too many details could be dangerous. At the shelter, we meet Koen Carlier, our Aliyah field worker and coordinator of the C4I team in Ukraine, and his wife Ira. They have arranged a kosher meal for me. After the meal, we have a look at the food supplies. I also speak at length with Rabbi Mendel from Mariupol, who is now in Israel.

Thanks to the providence of Koen, lives were saved in Mariupol. Weeks before the war, Koen brought large quantities of extra food parcels to the Jewish community in Mariupol, with the emphatic notice to the rabbis not to distribute anything yet. They were to wait until it was really necessary. And when General Koen gives an order…

In the meantime, I have been called by several rabbis, most of whom are now in Israel, to arrange help for those who are left behind. Large sums of money are needed to get people out as yet. Money for bus transportation and money to buy food.

This morning, I got up at 5:30 am, and now at 9:30 pm, we have finally arrived at the place where we will spend the night. So, this is not in the shelter. We encountered border crossing after border crossing, roadblock after roadblock. Koen and his wife Ira are joining us at the hotel. Tomorrow morning at 7.20 am, we will meet with the C4I Ukraine team members, and after that meeting, we will take the Jewish refugees on a big bus to the border crossing/bridge between Ukraine and Moldova. People will have to walk across the bridge with all their belongings (almost nothing!) to Moldova and get on other busses to Kishenev, the capital of Moldova. From there, they will leave for Israel for good, with the help of The Jewish Agency.

Refugees walk across the bridge from Ukraine to Moldova. | Photo: C4I


I turn in.


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