The 90-year-old was among 160 other refugees aboard the first-ever chartered humanitarian aid flight to assist Ukrainian refugees in Moldova by the United Hatzalah in Israel emergency medical services organization.
By Erin Viner
The elderly Holocaust survivor identified as Raisa had been living on her own in Odessa since her son passed away two years ago due to illness.
Her only remaining family are three granddaughters, all of whom live in Israel.
According to a statement from United Hatzalah, the women asked the volunteer-based organization to help save their grandmother’s life when the fighting broke out.
Rabbi Hillel Cohen, Director of United Hatzalah in Ukraine arranged for an ambulance to bring Raisa, who has difficulty walking, to the Moldovan border. Once she arrived, she was greeted by United Hatzalah volunteers who checked her medical status and provided with food and clothing.
Last Wednesday, she was brought to a shelter in Chisinau run by the local Jewish community. The following day, she was included among other Ukrainian refugees who were bused to the Iasi airport in Romania for a flight to Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport. Some of the passengers held Israeli citizenship, some came via the Right of Return, while several have decided to immigrate and make their permanent homes in the Jewish State.
“When the plane arrived in Israel, there were a lot of tears,” United Hatzalah Vice President of Operations Dov Maisel who accompanied the refugees for the return trip, told TV7. “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 as well.”
“What happened here was a miracle,” said Michal, one of Raisa’s granddaughters, telling the Israeli lifesaving organization, “Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”