It’s going to be slow posting on the blog until Rosh Hashana.
Very long story short, I decided very last minute to try to go with my husband to Uman for Rosh Hashana this year. He got stuck at Borispol with 120 chassids, and I got stuck at Zhuliany with my kids.
I could write reams and reams of the miracles that occurred, and the difficulties we endured when the Ukrainians changed the law mid-flight to make us ‘illegal’ when we landed. If we’d have started out ‘illegal’ I never would have gone.
But they bowed to pressure from the State of Israel – and probably also got bribed with a few million dollars – to root out any obviously Jewish Jews from getting to Uman this year.
They had a harder time with us, because my kids have nose rings and none of us were carrying a siddur.
But that didn’t stop them from barring us entry into the country illegally, then forcing us to sign a deportation order in Ukrainian that we had no idea what it said, then leaving us in the airport with no information or help for hours and hours and hours.
This was all Friday morning.
Then, I finally got to speak to someone who told me the next flight out back to Lisbon (where I’d flown in from, because there are no direct flights to Israel from Zhuliany) was on September 3rd.
At that point I cried.
Then I got my act together, and me and my teens started calling everyone we knew back in Israel to see if we could get some help out of our predicament.
There is no kosher food in Zhuliany and September 3rd was 6 days away.
One friend contacted the Israeli consulate for us, who arranged for Chabad to deliver food for us to the airport if we ordered kosher take out from Kiev. That was something.
Then, I decided to not wait to get ‘officially’ deported, and to try and buy the next ticket back to Israel. The officials told me I couldn’t be moved to Borispol, where there are direct flights, and so the nearest ticket I could find was a connection Sunday morning via Belarus.
My brother lent me his card to make the payment – God bless you, J! – and I started to breathe a little easier that at least some sort of ‘end’ was in sight.
Then, the Ukrainian soldiers who were sitting there ‘guarding us’ suddenly started telling us to not bring any bags, and to follow them. Where are we going? What’s happening?
Nothing. No explanation. Just a lot of smirks. My stomach sank.
We got rounded on to a bus (!) – just us and a late-coming group of 3 chassids from London – driven away from the terminal into the middle of the airfield, and then, the cherry on the top was when they released a vicious looking attack dog to keep circling around the bus every minute, while they sat there and smirked.
After a while, both my kids needed the toilet.
They asked if they could go to the toilet, and were rebuffed.
After another half an hour, they got so desperate one of them decided she was going to try to get off the bus anyway (dumb teenager syndrome resurfaced 400%) which is when I ran over and tried to calm things down.
Just wee on the floor if you have to!!!
I said this deliberately. I knew that some of the guards spoke good English, and I knew that stating the obvious outcome of not letting someone use the toilet when they needed to would make them very uncomfortable and if I was lucky, even a little bit ashamed.
Five minutes later, the bus drove back to the terminal, and they let us out.
Both my kids ran off to the toilet in hysterical tears for an hour, as a female soldier paced around the cubicles ‘guarding them’.
Little did they know, my daughter’s boyfriend secretly filmed the whole debacle on the bus, so reminiscent of World War II. My daughter has a very ‘connected’ friend who sent the video to the consulate, and also to about 100 whatsapp groups.
While all this was going on, we finally managed to email my husband to find out what was going on with him. That’s when we learned he was stuck in Borispol, and had become the unwitting English spokesman for his group.
As the minutes ticked down towards Shabbat, I kind of zoned out.
There’s always miniot (obstacles) to getting to Uman stam, and they go up a level for Rosh Hashana, and they went into stratospheric range this year.
Up until the Nazi-bus-deportation replay, I was handling it OK.
But after that, seeing how upset my kids were getting, it started to be more challenging.
Salvation came at the last minute.
Apparently, somehow Aryeh Deri got involved, and pressured the Israeli consulate to agree to the request to free us from the airport.
Because you should keep this very clear in your mind:
The Ukrainian government was only doing the bidding of the Israeli government, in blocking religious Jews from entering the country. The Ukrainians were the bagmen, but it was the State of Israel who was the really guilty party in what was going on.
We got out 20 minutes before Shabbat, unconditionally, and we booked into the kosher hotel in Kiev and immediately shot off there by taxi.
Technically, we probably broke Shabbat by about 10 minutes, which was very upsetting but under the circumstances, there was nothing I could do about it.
I booked two rooms – and then half an hour later, the hotel starts filling up with the 120 chassidim who had just been released from Borispol airport.
In one of the last vans out of the airport, we found my husband.
It was an emotional reunion.
Friday night, I went to sleep determined to get out of the Ukraine ASAP.
Other members of my family argued against doing that. If we were now in the Ukraine legally again, they said we should stay for Rosh Hashana.
Shabbat morning, I did a lot of hitbodedut about it, and I decided they were probably right.
It was a tough decision to make, not least because (unfounded….) rumours were reaching us that they were setting up roadblocks around Uman to prevent Jews from reaching the town.
We got here yesterday, and I had the first proper nights sleep in around 5 days.
Today, I read headlines like this:
The Ukrainians are becoming increasingly violent and unlawful to the Jews trying to get in – Jews, NOT just Israelis, so forget all that ‘Corona hotspot’ propaganda.
And remember, it’s the State of Israel who is behind all this, and who is sponsoring this discrimination and violence against chareidi Jews in the Ukraine.
So, it’s going to be slow posting on the blog while I’m here.
But I have the feeling God sent me here because a good story is developing. So, I will do my best to keep you informed with the real information about what is really going on, and who is really behind it all.
My husband met someone he knows from Shuvu Banim who told him they flew into Ukraine on Thursday night – even earlier than we did – and also got stopped at the border, forced to sign a piece of paper to deport them, and then the Ukranians literally tried to physically force them back on to the plane back to Israel.
So, what did they do?
They called the Israeli ambassador (stupid, stupid…) thinking that they would want to help Israeli citizens being hassled and illegally threatened by Ukrainian border police.
Instead, the ambassador told them that if they didn’t get on the plane to Israel ASAP, they would wait one day, then force them to get on a plane to Israel on Shabbat instead.
At that point, the man told my husband they were ready to crack, and agree to go back to Israel. Except then, some miracle happened and they were let into Israel unconditionally. There seems to be a pattern developing here.
But again, the story is shocking that the ISRAELI AMBASSADOR said and did this to religious Jews.
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