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The story of a yellow suitcase

editor - 1 April 2020

The military operations that started in eastern Ukraine in 2014 unexpectedly forced many to leave their homes and choose a new place of residence. For the Jewish people, their place of residence is defined in the Holy Scripture —Eretz Israel!

One family from Lugansk, in eastern Ukraine, did not have the possibility to leave the country Masha and Sergey Tolkachevs had no documents to proof they were Jewish and no relatives in Israel. Furthermore, Sergey is liable for military service. Their children, newlyweds Ilya and his wife Lyuba and son Fedor (1 month old), fled the city immediately because of the unrest.

During this time our team gave a lot of assistance to refugees from the war zone with met this couple. Families with young children needed special help. When we met Ilya, Lyuba and beautiful Fedor back in 2015 we told them about Aliyah and the ‘First Home in the Homeland’ program. However they would also need the documents to proof their Jewish roots, although Ilya knew as a young child already that his grandmother had Jewish roots. We helped this family for several months and prayed for a miracle that would help them go to Israel.

And our prayer was answered! The documents were found. During the shelling in Lugansk in 2015, the garage with Sergey’s car in it was damaged, as well as many old belongings. When Masha and Sergey cleaned the garage and picked up the rubble, they stumbled upon a yellow suitcase. In this suitcase Masha’s parents had kept various photographs and documents, and they had simply forgotten about this old suitcase. In it they found all the documents that were needed for the Israeli consulate in order to obtain the necessary paperwork to leave for Israel.

The garage that was heavily damaged

Their son Ilya and his family already left for Israel a few years ago. After spending time at First Home in the Homeland, his family now lives and works in Israel. Parents Sergey and Mashe remained in Eastern Ukraine, in the war zone in Luganck, until they realized they needed to come Home too, to Israel. They stayed with us in our shelter until the day of their departure to Israel and then we were privileged to take them to the airport. The Lord answers our prayers and leads His people out in a wonderful way! Since 2014 more than 6,000 Jewish people on their way to Israel stayed in our shelter in Kiev for a short or longer period.


“Hear the word of the Lord, you nations;
    proclaim it in distant coastlands:
‘He who scattered Israel will gather them
    and will watch over his flock like a shepherd.’”

Jeremiah 31 : 10


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