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Israel365’s Ukraine Response and Operation of February-March 2022. Thanks to our donors who made this operation a HUGE success. Israel365 is now supporting Jewish Ukrainian refugees in Israel.
March 24, 2022

As news spread that a Russian invasion of Ukraine was coming soon, Israel365 leaped into action. We quickly create an emergency fund, which raised an astounding $103,000 in less than a week. We have already given out tens of thousands of dollars to support communities, refugees, and to bring Ukrainian Jews back to Israel, with much more to come.

Check out our daily log of activities and events below. You’ll especially love the reports and messages from our very own Josh Wander, who is heavily involved in rescue and support efforts at the Ukrainian border, primarily based at the Jewish refugee center in Chisinau, Moldova.

 

TUESDAY, MARCH 22, 2022

 

8:57 AM – The most recent assessment that we have is that most able-bodied Jews who were eligible to leave Ukraine have left. That leaves Ukrainian Jewish men 18-60 and the sick and elderly still stuck in Ukraine. It is expected in the coming days and weeks that the number of overall refugees will decrease, but we will be seeing a larger number of medical cases that are in need of evacuation.

 

THURSDAY, MARCH 17, 2022 – PURIM!!!

 

2:03 PM – A gorgeous Purim at the refugee center in Chisinau!

 

 

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 16, 2022

 

3:42 PM – Home in time for Purim! Praying that the rest of my Jewish brothers and sisters from Ukraine and around the world will join me soon!​

 

 

TUESDAY, MARCH 15, 2022

 

1:25 PM – Just a small thing like bringing a few power strips to the airport for refugees to charge their phones makes a huge difference…

 

1:03 PM – In the City of Lasi, Romania, at the site of the city synagogue (no longer in use), which was also the site of Europe’s biggest pogrom during World War Two. The Romanians themselves killed over 13,000 Jews right here, in just three days. May Hashem avenge their blood.

 

 

11:36 AM – I’m still on the Knesset committee meeting Zoom call. Right now, we’re on with the Chief Rabbi of Moldova, who you already know.

 

 

10:27 AM – I (Josh) was just invited to participate in a Knesset committee meeting regarding the situation with Jewish Ukrainian refugees. I’m waiting for the Zoom session to start…

 

 

7:45 AM – Today I find myself in the city of Lasi, Romania. A place where over 10,000 Jews were murdered by locals during the Holocaust… I hope to make it to the old Jewish synagogue and memorial for those murdered, HY”D (May Hashem avenge their blood).

 

 

MONDAY, MARCH 14, 2022

 

11:28 PM – Eating a late dinner with the Israeli Consul General (the guy wearing the tie).

 

10:11 PM – The head of the Shomron (Samaria) Regional Council, Yossi Dagan, speaking with the CEO of United Hatzalah, Eli Beer.

 

8:08 PM – This woman, who I posted about earlier, is a 94-year old woman who was deported from the Ukraine to Uzbekistan by the Nazis when she was a child. After World War 2 ended, she returned to the Ukraine. Now, 70-plus years later, she’s a refugee again. But this time Israel is waiting for her with open arms. She’s flying home to Israel tomorrow, God willing. I’m so proud that I have an opportunity to be involved in this holy work!

 

7:21 PM – We bought the community a new commercial oven. For $750…we saved the day again! HUGE THANKS TO ALL ISRAEL365 FRIENDS WHO DONATED TO THE UKRAINE CAMPAIGN! YOUR DONATIONS ARE MAKING A REAL IMPACT EXACTLY WHERE IT MATTERS THE MOST!!!

 

6:39 PM – The refugee center’s oven has broken down from overuse… I’m running to buy them a new one before the stores close… So many needs… WHERE ARE ALL THE TENS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS BEING RAISED AROUND THE GLOBE? Mind boggling!

 

6:19 PM – Speaking to elderly Holocaust survivors who never believed that they would be refugees again.

 

1:07 PM – YOU HAVE TO READ THIS MIRACLE STORY IN PROGRESS! The woman here (with her young daughter) speaking to the Israeli Consul is the wife of a Jewish man from Odessa, Ukraine who is suffering from Leukemia. She and her daughter were able to escape, but he was left behind. We were able to get him out of Odessa, and he just arrived at the Ukraine-Moldova border. He should be arriving within a couple of hours. We fast-tracked this appointment with the Israeli Consul to get the family the correct paperwork so that they can fly to Israel tomorrow on the emergency United Hatzalah flight, and then get the husband admitted into Rambam Hospital in Haifa for care and treatment.

 

 

11:27 AM – Eli Beer, the head of United Hatzalah, has arrived and is meeting with the Chief Rabbi of Moldova. Hatzalah medics have been at the refugee center at Chinisau (and at the border) for a couple of weeks saving many lives. Thank God.

 

 

11:26 AM – Representatives from the Satmar Chassidic group have arrived in Chisinau to help out.

 

9:32 AM – Packaging more meals for refugees.

 

8:34 AM – Aliyah paperwork in Ukrainian. Just fill out the form, and you’re a citizen (if you’re eligible). Look how easy God has made it to come back home.

 

8:22 AM – Sending off an ambulance to pick up a sick Jew in Odessa

 

8:04 AM – Flyers for the Jewish city of Nof HaGalil recruiting Ukrainian refugees to move there. Let’s resettle the Land!

 

 

 

SUNDAY, MARCH 13, 2022

 

9:59 PM – Josh is showing us tons and tons of pictures that Israeli children drew for the Ukrainian refugees. They’re plastered all over the elevator and on every door of the hotel!

 

11:13 AM – Josh says, “This is one of the heroes of our work helping the refugees. He’s a Christian Arab originally from Jordan who moved to Western Europe a few years ago and started a luxury van driving service. Last week, he put his business on the side, and drove several hours to Moldova just to help out the refugees. He’s a humble man, and not in it for the glory, so he asked that we don’t show his face.”

 

8:28 AM – Veggies for breakfast for the refugees.

 

7:14 AM – We asked, “So, Josh, how was Shabbat?” Josh responded, “Crazy as usual. We successfully managed to house and feed hundreds of refugees, so I consider that a success! And I’m still wearing my Shabbat clothes!

 

7:09 AM – Josh says, “Shavua tov! Every morning, we have to check through hundreds of documents of refugees to determine their eligibility under Israel’s Law of Return and see how we can assist them with coming home…”

 

 

 

FRIDAY, MARCH 11, 2022

 

7:50 AM – Josh says, “Late last night I got word that 200-300 Jewish refugees were escaping from Odessa and headed our way for Shabbat. Great news! Except one thing…we had nowhere to put them up. All the hotels in town were already full and we were packed to the gills. We brainstormed for hours… Maybe we can rent a gym, a school, a stadium, a movie theatre etc, etc, etc. We made dozens of calls but to no avail. Finally, a miracle happened and we found a hotel where the current guests were leaving tomorrow and would be available for Shabbat! I immediately booked the entire hotel knowing that it would be snapped up if we didn’t grab it…stay tuned. More to come…

 

 

 

THURSDAY, MARCH 10, 2022

 

5:24 PM – Here’s a map of Moldova, nestled between Ukraine and Romania. Josh is currently in the capital, Chisinau, also known as Kishniev. The Moldovans are concerned that Russia will go after them next. Pray for peace, everybody!

 

3:45 PM – Today freezing Chisinau, tomorrow sunny Tel Aviv.  BRING THEM HOME!

 

3:44 PM – A life-saving truckload of food arrives in Chisinau for the refugees.

 

2:48 PM – Josh takes a moment out of his non-stop running around to sit and eat at the Chabad refugee center in Chisinau.

 

1:12 PM – Josh reporting from the Irish pub in Chisinau that’s now a refugee kitchen and dining hall.

 

9:17 AM – Rabbi Lau speaks to the Ukrainian refugees in Hebrew with a Ukranian translator. He tells the people that he will be flying back with them to Israel this afternoon, and that they have a reason to smile because the people of Israel are waiting for them.

 

8:53 AM – Josh, in the middle of discussing issues with Rabbi Lau.

 

8:10 AM – “The Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Lau, has shown up to the Chisinau refugee center to show solidarity.”

 

 

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 9, 2022

 

6:28 PM – “Already shopping for Shabbat for hundreds of expected refugees…we bought 50 kg (110 pounds) of salmon…”

 

3:44 PM – “We had to bring in the electric company in coordination with the municipality to hook up a giant generator. It’s for emergency backup electricity for the refugee center in case of a power outage or overload.”

 

2:02 PM – Snowing again in Chisinau. Thank God there’s food and shelter for everyone. More buses keep coming. Watch this update:

 

1:43 PM – “So many passports needed to bring the Jewish People home…”

 

1:13 PM – Moldovan banks and money changers are not exchanging Ukrainian hryvnias for any currency because they’re worth nothing. Josh says that even a suitcase full of Ukrainian money is worthless at this point. Refugees are coming over with clothes, but no money. We are helping.

 

1:10 PM – More buses are pulling into Moldova from Ukraine. This is a very important update from Josh with good news. Watch the video:

 

11:30 AM – Ukrainian refugee children eating and playing in the courtyard awaiting a flight home to Israel.

 

11:10 AM – A massive shipment of Kosher instant noodles-in-a-cup arrived at the refugee center in Moldova. Simple food like this is saving lives!

 

8:12 AM – Clothing and toys donated to the refugees in Moldova.

 

TUESDAY, MARCH 8, 2022

 

11:23 PM – “Lots of fake news everywhere.”

 

6:41 PM – Josh tells us, “We purchased around 500kg (1,100 pounds!) of supplies. There is no salt left in the store. Prices are rising here daily. Supplies get more scarce and more expensive by the day!” And this is Moldova. Imagine how horrendous it is in Ukraine.

 

6:04 PM – Josh is now at the “Costco” of Moldova buying essential foods in bulk to sneak into Jewish communities in Ukrainian cities that are under siege. Both Russian AND Ukrainian armies have been intercepting and stealing food destined for starving civilians.

 

4:49 PM – If this was your mother, what would you do to get her to safety?

 

4:42 PM – More Jewish refugees arrived in Moldova from Ukraine. Thousands are coming through.

 

3:15 PM – “Who says you can’t have a minute or fun in a war zone?”

 

3:08 PM – Less than half an hour after the clowns showed up with clear skies, it started snowing. This is actually bad news for refugees stuck at the border. Watch Josh’s video.

 

2:37 PM – “Clowns came to cheer up the refugee children in Chisinau.”

 

2:24 PM – “Another wave of hungry and tired refugees show up from the border.”

 

1:07 PM – “Preparing food for the never-ending lines of refugees flowing over the Ukraine-Moldova border.”

 

10:39 AM – Josh tells us that after days of waiting, Ukrainian Jewish refugees are getting on buses to Romania to catch their flights to Israel.

 

9:31 AM – The Chief Rabbi of Moldova checks through refugees’ documents to get them permission to get them onto chartered flights to Israel.

 

8:56 AM –  Morning prayers in the prayer tent in Chisinau. Please make sure that you’re praying for everybody’s safety as much as we are.

 

8:50 AM – This is what the refugee tents look like from the inside. Cots, mattresses, sheets, pillows, and blankets to sleep through the freezing cold Moldovan nights.

 

8:25 AM – Josh reviewing border logistics with a detailed map. Gotta get the Jews across that border!

 

 

8:00 AM – The kitchen we helped fund in Chisinau and preparing meals for refugees.

 

7:15 AM – Some pictures from the Chisinau refugee center. Remember the tents that we bought?

 

 

2:10 AM – Josh just arrived in Chisinau, Moldova. This is his second trip there.

 

MONDAY, MARCH 7, 2022

 

10:53 PM – “Just crossed over to Moldova.”

 

6:55 PM – Josh is staying at the airport in Yasi, Romania, which is the closest airport to Moldova, to see, meet, and help Jewish refugees waiting to board the charter flights to Israel.

 

4:40 PM – “Landed in Yasi, Romania to meet Jewish refugees who have fled from Ukraine and are waiting to board emergency rescue fights to Israel…. They have been traveling for days to get here. They tell horror stories of dead bodies on the way and people having to walk for 25km to the borders… No international aid. No water, no food, no gas… Cars that ran out of gas and batteries on the side of all the roads. I am working with all the families. There are 17 refugees here that made their own way from Ukraine to Lasi to catch this rescue flight…several more buses are on the way from Chisinau, Moldova, with United Hatzalah.”

 

6:24 AM – Josh is on the airplane to Romania. Pray for his success and safety. We will keep you posted.

 

 

SUNDAY, MARCH 6, 2022

 

4:15 PM – After running around Israel all day gathering up things for his return to Romania, Josh arrived at Ben Gurion airport to greet the children from the orphanage who are just arriving in Israel. They’re getting a very happy greeting.

 

 

FRIDAY, MARCH 4, 2022

 

4:29 PM – Our hero Josh landed in Israel! Rabbi Tuly met him at the airport and drove him back to Jerusalem. Now Tuly just has to get back to Bet Shemesh in time for Shabbat! Stay tuned for more action next week. There’s still MUCH MORE work to be done, and Israel365 will be on top of it.

 

11:34 PM – Josh is about the board the plane from Romania to come back home. He says, “Armed soldiers all around our gate and surrounding the plane. I guess Israel gets special security treatment here…”

 

10:50 PM – “An entire city block was bombed today right next door to the house of the Rebbitzen of Zhitomer who I interviewed yesterday. Her husband, the Rabbi of Zhitomer, is on the way out as we speak.”

 

THURSDAY, MARCH 3, 2022

8:20 PM – Remember the Israeli? He became the chef for the orphanage. God has an interesting way of arranging things.

8:07 PM – “They are baking bread here with the symbol of Ukraine in solidarity.”

 

8:03 PM – More refugees arrive at the hotel, which is running out of rooms.

.

 

7:53 PM – Dinner time!

 

 

5:53 PM – Josh and the Israeli load up the SUV with veggies and other foods bought by Israel365 for the orphanage. They need meals for today, Friday, Shabbat, and Sunday morning, then they fly back to Israel.

 

4:22 PM – Remember the toys that Josh and the Israeli restaurant owner bought for the orphans?

 

3:15 PM – At the hotel with the orphans and their guardians. Josh had an opportunity to speak with the wife of the Rabbi of Zhitomer, to hear her story of crossing the border.

 

1:15 PM – Josh repeats what he said last week, that from what he’s seen on the ground, the Russia-Ukraine war is spawning the worst humanitarian crisis the Jewish people have seen since World War Two.

11:26 AM – Josh arrives at the hotel where the orphans are staying, delivering the food and toys. Thank God, they are safe and being taken care of.

 

7:35 AM – After driving all night, Josh gives us an exciting morning update from northern Romania.

 

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 2, 2022

8:32 PM – Josh and the Israeli restaurant owner are almost finished loading up the SUV (which is already filled with boxes of food) with a huge box of brand new toys and arts and crafts materials.

4:58 PM – Still in Bucharest, Josh has started loading up the SUV he rented with tons of food. He says, “Car is filling up…lots of help from the small Jewish community here!” He also told us that the Israeli owner of Bucharest’s kosher restaurant told Josh that he’s coming with him to deliver the food and toys to the orphans.

2:11 PM – In Bucharest, Josh goes out shopping for toys, games, and kosher food for the 50 children in the orphanage. “Only in Eastern Europe the Chief Rabbi of the country takes you personally shopping to show you what is kosher for the Jewish orphans…”

 

9:48 AM – Josh is invited to visit a Jewish orphanage that managed to escape Ukraine and is currently a 6-hour drive away in the Romanian town of Cluj-Napoca (Klausenberg). In 3-4 days, they are expecting to fly to Israel. The director sends a wish list of what will make the children happy.

 

TUESDAY, MARCH 1, 2022

10:54 PM – A group of Christian philanthropists contact Josh about his work over the last few days.

6:53 PM – Israel365 contributes 2100 Euro to the cost of renting a second kitchen to cook food for refugees in Chisinau. The refugee center will now be able to provide 1800 meals per day! Josh misses his flight out of Bucharest. It must be that God has bigger plans for him. 

5:20 PM – USA Today asks Josh if they can write an article about his work over the last few days.

3:34 PM – Meanwhile, the Rabbi in Chisinau informs Josh that the refugee tents were purchased and set up.

12:25 PM – Josh crosses the border back into Romania, and eventually arrives in Bucharest, the capital.

9:51 AM – “Working to get out of Moldova. I can feel the noose tightening. I can’t tell if others are also feeling the tension. Already very limited options for travel across any border here. Will update…”

 

MONDAY, FEB 28, 2022

11:40 PM – The bedding we ordered gets delivered to the refugee center.

8:00 PM – The Israel365 team, back at home in Israel, manages to locate, purchase, and ship a hard-to-find satellite phone from the Netherlands to the Chief Rabbi of Moldova, who is running the refugee center in Chisinau.

7:33 PM – Josh gives us a final update at the border before driving back to Chisinau with an Israeli TV crew.

4:33 PM – Josh arrives at Palanka at the Moldova-Ukraine border. “Ukrainian women and children are allowed to cross the border, but men between the ages of 18-60 are not allowed to cross the border. Looking for Jewish refugees to get them to help and bring them to Israel.”

1:50 PM – “I have an order in for tomorrow to buy tents, mattresses, sleeping bags, blankets, generators and heating… Lots of needs here. I’m currently headed to the border of Ukraine to survey the area. There are old Jews stuck in Odessa that can possibly be saved…There is a crew of Channel 11 traveling with me now that are crossing the border and will send me info. I have a meeting tomorrow with the Israeli consul to try and get some Jewish asylum seekers to Israel.”

12:10 PM – Josh meets with the Mayor of Chisinau, who thanks us for our help.

12:05 PM – The Chief Rabbi gives the Mayor of Chisinau a tour of the refugee center and asks for funds to rent a second kitchen.

10:38 AM – “Chief Rabbi is giving out funds to help refugees at the borders. Headed to borders soon.”

9:03 AM – Josh recognizes the need for more tents and allocates funds to buy more.

8:15 AM – “Jewish refugees are pouring in from across the Ukraine. Rabbi Saltzman and I are greeting them and trying to assist where we can. One family escaped from Uman, Ukraine and has been traveling with 4 kids (one baby) all night. They say that almost all the Jews have cleared out from there and are on their way to the borders.”

7:01 AM – “Good morning from somewhere in war-torn Europe.”

SUNDAY, FEB 27, 2022

8:05 pm – After the weddings, we had a celebratory group dinner in the Center

7:09 pm – When asked by a French reporter how many people are asking to move to Israel, the Chief Rabbi said that for security reasons he can’t answer.

6:07 pm – Tonight, two older couples got married for the first time at the refugee center! Here’s one of them:

5:40 PM – The Chief Rabbi of Moldova gives a tour of the refugee center to the media. “They are expecting thousands of Jewish refugees to very soon flee over the borders!”

4:20 PM – Some of the children at the Chisinau refugee center.

4:01 PM – The Chief Rabbi of Moldova accepts our food donations and thanks our donors. 

3:17 PM – After 12 hours on a bus, Josh finally reaches the capital of Romania, Chisinau. Josh meets the Chief Rabbi of Moldova at his refugee center.

1:38 PM- Josh arrives in Moldova

12:37 PM – Josh crosses the Prut River from Romania into Moldova

12:26 PM – Josh arrives at the Romania-Moldova border

SATURDAY NIGHT, FEB 26, 2022

After Shabbat, Josh Wander flies from Tel Aviv to Bucharest, Romania with 100 pounds (50kg) of frozen kosher chickens, and 100 pounds (50kg) of kosher cheese. The two suitcases together were 44 pounds (20 kg) overweight.

Four hours later, he arrives in Bucharest and boards a bus for a 12-hour ride to Chisinau, the capital of Moldova.

FRIDAY, FEB 25, 2022

The invasion escalates. Israel365 asks Josh Wander to go on a mission to assess the situation of Ukrainian refugees in general and the Jewish refugees in particular at the Moldova-Ukraine border. Josh accepts the mission. Shabbat begins.

Before Shabbat, the Rabbi of Kharkov sends us another thank you message with an appeal to pray for the people of Ukraine.

 

THURSDAY, FEB 24, 2022

Russia invades Ukraine. Our donors step up to the plate with a flood of donations. Israel365 begins disbursing funds to Jewish communities and transfers funds to The Jewish Agency for Israel for flights.

The Rabbi of the Jewish community in Kharkov, Ukraine sent us an update on his community along with a thanks to Israel365’s donors for the $5,000 we transferred to him to feed and house refugees.

 

 

WEDNESDAY, FEB 23, 2022

It seemed very clear that Russia was going to invade Ukraine, and Ukrainian Jewish communities were already preparing for the worst. Israel365 was ahead of the curve, kicking off our fundraising campaign to support Jewish communities and sponsor flights for Jews to immigrate to Israel from the Ukraine.

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