In an era of war, Ukrainian refugee kids get a summer break thanks to Jewish charity


By Stewart Ain | JTA

Before Olga decided to flee Ukraine, she and her 16-year-old daughter sat in the basement of their home while Russian rockets fell around them.

Flamenco dancers dancing with children
Flamenco dancers visit a center in Netanya, Israel, for evacuees from Ukraine as part of an educational activity for children. (UJA-Federation, via JTA)

“There was no water, no light,” she recalled, crying. “We needed help in order to leave.”

Olga — whose last name and city of origin are being withheld out of concern for the safety of relatives still in Ukraine — eventually found a way out amid Russian bombardment, first escaping to Moldova and then flying to Israel. While she and he daughter were in transit, she learned that her father’s body had been discovered in his apartment; it was unclear how long he had been dead.

Meanwhile, Olga’s husband and adult son had to remain behind due to Ukraine’s wartime rule barring males age 18-60 from leaving the country in the event they’re needed to defend the home front.

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