(United Hatzalah)
Ukrainian refugee Holocaust survivor

Raisa was one of 160 Ukrainian Jewish refugees brought to Israel Thursday by United Hatzalah.

By United with Israel Staff

On Thursday, as part of its first-ever chartered humanitarian aid flight to assist Ukrainians who made it across the border to Moldova, United Hatzalah, a volunteer-based emergency medical services organization, airlifted 160 refugees to Israel.

Some held Israeli citizenship, some came via the Law of Return, and some had decided to immigrate to Israel and make it their permanent home.

Under the Law of Return, all non-Israeli Jews are entitled to settle in Israel and receive full Israeli citizenship. This includes non-Jewish children, grandchildren and spouses, so that families would not be torn apart.

Raisa, a 90-year-old Holocaust survivor who has difficulty walking, was living on her own in Odessa. Her son had passed away two years ago due to illness. Her three grand-daughers, who all live in Israel, are her only remaining family.

When Russian invaded Ukraine last week and war broke out, people fled the city.

Raisa’s granddaughters reached out to United Hatzalah and asked them to help save the elderly woman’s life.

Rabbi Hillel Cohen, director of United Hatzalah in Ukraine, arranged for an ambulance to bring her to the Moldovan border. There she met United Hatzalah’s volunteers, who brought her food and clothing and checked her medical status.

On Wednesday, Raisa was brought to a shelter in Chisinau run by the local Jewish community.

Early Thursday morning, together with other Ukrainian refugees, she was brought by bus to the airport in Romania, where she boarded a flight to Israel.

“When the plane arrived in Israel, there were a lot of tears,” said United Hatzalah Vice President of Operations Dov Maisel, who accompanied the refugees for the return trip.

“I’ve seen my fair share of disaster zones and I don’t get emotional easily, but seeing Raisa reunited with her granddaughters brought me to tears.”

“What happened here was a miracle,” said Michal, one of Raisa’s granddaughters. “Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”