One of the senior figures in Ukraine involved in arranging the rescue of thousands of Ukrainian Jews is Georgii (Zvi Hirsch) Logvynskyi, a Jewish Ukrainian who served in the Ukrainian Parliament from 2014–19, and was vice-president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe from 2017–18.
Logvynskyi grew up in Kfar Chabad after immigrating to Israel as part of the “Chernobyl children” who were brought to Israel on the instructions of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, z’tl.
In a recent interview with the Israeli weekly magazine Kfar Chabad, Logvynskyi said: “I attribute the fact that about a thousand Jews escape the inferno in Ukraine every day and I have the power to rescue them – to Chabad. I received the chinuch and experience to do what I do from Chabad, which once rescued me and instilled the koach in me to rescue thousands more, dozens of years later.”
“I’m in touch with shluchim from all over the world,” he said. “I established a rescue operation for Jews in cooperation with the Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry in Ukraine and in coordination with the Ukrainian police and border police. We rescued most of the Jewish communities.”
“The kehilla that I think suffered the most is the kehilla of HaRav Pinchas Vishtzky from Kyiv. After all, they were already rescued once, in 2014 from the [Russian-backed separatist] city of Donetsk, and by the time they managed to reconsolidate and form a new kehilla in Kyiv, they had to evacuate again. It was really difficult to witness this.”
On a side note, a story about HaRav Vishtzky that circulated in Israel made a tremendous Kiddush Hashem. While he was still in Kyiv, a Jew ran into the Chabad house on Shabbos and cried: “My gas tank is empty and there’s no place to buy gas!” Without a minute’s hesitation, Rav Vishtzky, handed his keys to the man and told him to transfer the fuel from his car, despite the fact that he also needed to rescue his family in the near future.
In 2019, while Logvynskyi was still a member of the Ukrainian Parliament, he visited Israel with other members of parliament in his role as chairman of the Ukraine-Israel Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Association. During the trip, he visited Kfar Chabad and was seen distributing chocolate bars to the children of the village together with one of the local leaders.
In an interview with the Kfar Chabad weekly, he explained why he distributed the chocolate bars.
“When I was a child and studied in the village, I had no money,” Logvinsky said. “There were very few options to make money but I managed to use some of my free time to work at various places such as the esrog grove and chicken coop. After I managed to save a few shekels, I went to the grocery store and I wanted to buy chocolate bars. But I saw that I could only buy only one bar of chocolate with the money I earned working for an entire hour.”
“At that moment, I decided that my dream was to have enough money to buy many chocolate bars and give them out to the children of Kfar Chabad. During my last visit to Israel, I visited Kfar Chabad and finally fulfilled that dream. I went into the local supermarket, filled a cart with chocolate bars, and gave them out to the children. It was the closing of a circle for me.”
Below is a video of then-prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu meeting with Logvynskyi and other members of the Ukrainian Parliament during their visit to Israel in 2019.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)