The office of UTJ MK Yisrael Eichler received an urgent appeal on Thursday night from a group of Chassidish avreichim from Israel on the Ukrainian-Polish border near the Polish city of Przemyśl, B’Chadrei Chareidim reported.
The avreichim had traveled to the area to daven by the kevarim of tzaddikim on the Polish/Ukrainian border and were caught there when the war broke out early Thursday morning.
The group spent almost 24 hours trying to cross into Poland through Medyka, the main border crossing between the two countries, but were unsuccessful due to the thousands of refugees trying to do the same thing and the lack of manpower at the border.
Eichler contacted the Israeli Foreign Ministry staff nearby who reported that the border crossings were open and that there was nothing they could do. Eichler then tried to figure out whether it was better for the group to remain at the Medyka crossing or to re-enter Ukraine and try to cross through a different border crossing.
After an urgent consultation with security officials in Ukraine and Poland, a decision was made that the group should remain at Medyka since it was safer than other areas in Ukraine. Eichler instructed the group to remain where they were and wait for further instructions.
By Friday morning at six a.m., the huge line hadn’t moved at all and nothing seemed to be progressing. At this point, Foreign Ministry officials tried to intervene with Ukrainian officials to expedite matters. At the same time, Eichler consulted with Rabbanim in Kyiv about the halachic implications of the rescue operation continuing into Shabbos.
But the Rabbanim who Eichler spoke with requested assistance for a different crisis altogether – and a much more complex one. A large group of yesomim from HaRav Shlomo Baksht’s orphanage in Odessa needed to be transported to a safer area, a problem complicated by the fact that the family origins of some of the orphans were unknown [from the father’s side].
Eichler contacted Yoel Lion, a frum Jew and Israel’s ambassador to Moldova and Armenia, and asked for assistance with the complex humanitarian situation. Lion, who served as Israel’s ambassador to Ukraine from 2018 to 2021, used his connections on both sides of the border and arranged for the orphans to be transported to the Ukrainian-Moldovan border, where Israeli representatives would wait for them with documents prepared beforehand, and assist them in crossing the border.
After the issue of the yesomim was addressed, Eichler’s office returned to solving the problem of the avreichim still on the Ukrainian-Polish border.
Fortunately, the avreichim successfully crossed into Poland with the assistance of an Israeli representative, who even brought them a special vehicle to transport them to the nearest city where they stayed for Shabbos.
The Rabbanim whom Eichler consulted with paskened that rescue efforts should continue on Shabbos without any hesitations. Both rescue operations were completed on Shabbos.
On Sunday, Lion had a moving meeting (as seen in the video below) with 100 Israeli students in Ukraine who drove 24 hours to the Moldovan border.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)