Throughout Shabbos, a convoy of four buses carrying hundreds of refugees from the Jewish kehilla in Odessa traveled non-stop to a refuge in western Ukraine, on a tension-filled and frightening journey.
The refugees were not only afraid of Russian shelling but were also worried that the buses would be stopped by Ukrainian authorities since Ukrainian men aged 18 to 65 are currently banned from leaving the cities. Fortunately, however, the buses succeeded in reaching a safe haven in western Ukraine on Shabbos at 4 p.m. after traveling almost non-stop for two days.
“Over Shabbos, there were very heavy traffic jams of hundreds of kilometers of Ukrainians fleeing west,” HaRav Aharon Motoz, head of Dirshu in Ukraine, told B’Chadrei Chareidim. “We drove almost non-stop. We stopped for a few minutes on Friday night and had Kabbalas Shabbos – we made Kiddush and ate a kezayis of challah and then immediately continued traveling. We were tense the whole way and we were afraid we would be stopped. Ukrainian soldiers were everywhere with their weapons drawn. Part of the time we were traveling against traffic.”
In a video of the surreal scene, HaRav Rafi Kruskal of Odessa is seen making Kiddush surrounded by the refugees standing next to the buses.
Below is a video of HaRav Shlomo Baksht, the Rav of Odessa, and part of his kehilla, davening Mincha, on the way to safety.
Vladimir Putin is a tyrant, a liar and a thug. The man who says he’s come to Ukraine to “de-nazify” it is forcing Jews to flee their homes and houses of worship. https://t.co/CvVe4qUyv3
— Wesley Hunt (@WesleyHuntTX) February 26, 2022
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)