Ukraine’s Jews walk narrow line between murderous past and uncertain future

editor - 17 May 2017

As Ukrainian PM Volodymyr Groysman winds up a three-day visit to IsraelJews back home try to cope with economic difficulties and the effects of war. ODESSA, Ukraine — At two years of age, Masha cannot walk yet, although she has learned to sit and stand. When she arrived at the Tikva foster home in Odessa six months ago, she could not even hold her head. Since then, she has had four epileptic fits.

When her mother went to hospital to give birth, doctors said she needed a Caesarean section. But they would only operate if she paid them the usual bribe. The mother — so poor that she lived with 11 others in a single, filthy room — did not have the cash. It was only when Masha was starting to choke in the womb that hospital staff agreed to carry out the surgery.

Although it is too early to tell how Masha will fare — neurosurgeons say she has not sustained brain damage — she is lucky to have been rescued and brought to a place with around the clock care, along with her brother Mishka, one and a half, who came to Tikva with a lung infection but is now developing normally.

The two were discovered by Tikva social workers as they lay seriously ill in a hospital. They were on their way to a state orphanage. Masha just lay in bed, not moving.

Their father is an alcoholic. Their mother, who is thought to be mentally ill, is pregnant again.

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Koen Carlier (L), founder of Christians for Israel Ukraine, and Pim van der Hoff, C4I International Board member, in Odessa, Ukraine, May 12, 2017. (Photo: Sue Surkes)


Natasha Kryzhanovsky, a Christians for Israel fieldworker, looks at photographs of some of the 2,800 Ukrainian Jews who have passed through the organization’s shelter on their way to Israel, May 4, 2017, Ukraine. (Photo: Sue Surkes)


Weathered Jewish gravestones above the tomb of Nathan, Rabbi Nachman‘s disciple, Bratslav, Ukraine, May 10, 2017. (Photo: Sue Surkes)

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