20 real stories from Ukrainian refugees during the first days of Russian invasion
We present you a unique book “One-way Suitcase” based on the personal stories of refugees from Ukraine accepted by Agudath Israel in Moldova during the first months of the war. During this time, we helped to more than 25,000 refugees of different ethnicities and religions.
Despite our preparedness and willingness to help – what we experienced was beyond any imagination. When we heard their stories, looked at the eyes and faces of women, children, and elderly, we decided to preserve the memories of at least a part of them for whom for this period we became a shelter, friends and even a family. Keeping memory in general is one of the special characteristics of the Jewish people that helped us to survive and exist for over 3,000 years as a one long story.
The book consists of 20 most heart-touching stories. Families, kids, lonely elderly, handicapped people, abandoned pets… All stories are unique and unpublished before, collected and revised by professional journalists. It was vital for them to talk, baring their soul about all the pain suffered, lost people and belongings, destroyed property and businesses, crippled dreams. … And we carefully listened and supported them overcoming sleep and incredible fatigue: it all seemed like a terrible dream but it was a new reality full of tragedy and pain.
Unique photos taken by photographers from four different countries who were with us those days accompany the heartfelt stories.
We are sure this special edition will not only catch the present moment of the history, but also will serve as a document, a remembrance, a warning and will not lose its actuality after years pass.
Unfortunately, the war is not over. We continue praying for sooner peace in the neighboring Ukraine, in Moldova, in the entire world, for that people are able to return to their normal life.
Refugees continue coming to our country and requiring constant help.
We urge you to support them, purchase this book and spread the word of it among you family members, friends and communities. All the money gathered will go for food, accommodation, medicines, adaptation for the refugees who are under our care.
“When the wave of refugees from Ukraine hit the small Republic of Moldova, we knew we had an obligation to act properly. With thanks to God and all the people in our midst, our staff, hundreds of volunteers from Moldova, the USA, Israel, Great Britain and other countries stepped up. Together we worked around the clock, as one, and responded to the most acute and the most basic needs.
I am deeply thankful and grateful to all who answered our appeals and helped – both financially and through the giving of personal time and deeds. I am sure, in some sense, it is more important for us who offer help and support, than for those whom we help.
Being a Jewish Orthodox Rabbi, I had to announce a working regime on the first Shabbats in February and March as we faced a situation of “pikuach nefesh” (life preservation) – the moment when saving lives becomes more important than observing strict religious rules. There was never a thought about who these poor people were. It didn’t matter whether they were Jewish, Ukrainians, Gipsy, religious or secular. It was simply heartbreaking to see so many children, women and elderly, lost, crying, silent…
I would ask you, while reading these stories and looking at these pictures, to look into yourselves, and to think ‘where and what would be your place in this’, as it is said “…love your neighbor as yourself”.
Now as always I pray for peace and for our human unification, not only in times such as this when there is war, calamities, tragedies and disasters. It must be something we continue to pray for in times of peace. Only in this way can we develop, create, progress and grow.
I wish all of you peace, health and prosperity. Thank you for your attention to this unique edition!”
Rabbi Pinchas Zaltsman
Chief Rabbi of Moldova, Head of Agudath Israel in Moldova
Few Chapter Descriptions from the book
Chapter 1. The Day the War Started
The Doctor Changed by the War
He was invited by the rabbi to help refugees. He came and stayed for more than a month, sleeping 3-4 hours a day. Practically a field hospital ... in a synagogue. Manipulations, ultrasound scans and even surgeries. He could hardly imagine before that it was possible. But he had to, because “here everything is different. And I'm different. The war has changed me.”
Chapter 3. Losing All but Memory
Remember Us Sometimes
The war hit everyone, but the family of disabled people who fled from Kyiv had a harder time than many. After all, the very movement for a mother without legs and a son with one kidney is not an easy task. On the way they met different people… What helped to survive and move forward? Probably, willpower and the habit to overcome hardships.
Chapter 9. Beyond the Limits
Moms will Never Let the World Forget the Tragedy of Ukraine
She took her three children out of the shelled Kyiv and, being a well-known journalist, editor-in-chief of a well-known newspaper, she helped many more to escape, including those from the tragic Irpen and the hair-raising Bucha. After all, when you leave your homeland, you must at least save its most valuable thing - the memory.
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All the money gathered will go for food, accommodation, medicines, adaptation for the refugees who are under our care.