“After the Holocaust, from one family, a boy survived, from another family, a girl. They were my grandparents.”
This was how Orly Wolstein from the Israeli integration programme, ‘First Home in the Homeland’ began her story during a speaking tour with Christians for Israel in South Germany.
Orly was born in the Ukrainian town of Herson, where she saw the collapse of the Soviet Union, studied in Kiev, Konstanz and Frankfurt and eventually decided to go to Israel with her daughter.
“I only took one backpack, just in case I had to run after my daughter. When we were ready to leave, a white VW van arrived and took us to the airport. At the time, I knew nothing about Christians for Israel.”
The rest of the story on the bus is provided by Christians for Israel staff member Natalya Kryzhanovsky from Kiev.
“One day, our pastor came up to me and said,
‘Natalya, here is the key for a Volkswagen van, for your ministry with the Jewish people.
The Lord says He needs this donkey.
Years before, the Lord had told my husband and I, that He wanted to use us to bring His people home.
By now, the ‘donkey’ has travelled half a million kilometres, ‘Ukrainian kilometres!’
Natalya added, referring to the run-down state of the roads.
Thousands of Jewish people have sat on its seats, they’ve used the free ride to request their documents at the Israeli embassy and have eventually ended 2,000 years of Diaspora to go home to Israel.
“In Kiev, I ran for my life.”
This was all my own (Anemone Rüger’s) grandfather could manage whenever Kiev was mentioned, before memories overwhelmed him – memories of withdrawal battles in November 1943, when he was fleeing from the Red Army with his 208th German Infantry Division. What he experienced during those years on the Eastern Front was something he would forever keep to himself.
Perhaps he also cried because he realised that now, in the generation of his own grandchildren, a window of grace has been opened up for Germans to go to Ukraine; to kneel down at the mass graves, to ask survivors for forgiveness, have a chat with them, bring food parcels and help them on their way to Israel.
The children of your oppressors will come bowing before you. (Isaiah 60: 14)
250,000 Jewish people in Ukraine are still wondering what to do. More than 17,000 survivors are still waiting for us, the descendants of their German oppressors, to bring healing in a way only we can. Or they are waiting for us to come back because we have become part of their family; they want to celebrate Hanukkah with us, Pesach, and 9 May, the day of victory over the Nazi regime.
The “man-on-the-ground” in the Ukraine from Christians for Israel, all year round makes food parcels for Jews in his corner of the world with his volunteers, !
A month ago, 14 Dutch and 7 volunteers from Germany packed 1500 food parcels which they distributed in Odessa, Chernovtsy, Chmilnitsky,…
“To comfort and bless the Jewish people!”