90-Year-Old Holocaust Survivor Among 160 Ukrainian Refugees Brought to Israel on United Hatzalah Rescue Flight

Raisa, a 90-year-old Holocaust survivor who fled her home in Odessa after last month's Russian invasion of Ukraine, is reunited with her granddaughters in Israel.

March 9, 2022

Last week, in its first-ever humanitarian aid flight, United Hatzalah brought 160 Ukrainian refugees to Israel.

One of the passengers on the rescue flight from Romania to Israel was Raisa, a 90-year-old Holocaust survivor who lived on her own in the Black Sea city of Odessa before the Russian invasion of Ukraine last month.

Raisa’s son died two years ago, and her sole remaining family members were three granddaughters who lived in Israel.

Raisa has difficulty walking, and when the war broke out in late February her granddaughters reached out to United Hatzalah and asked for help saving her.

Rabbi Hillel Cohen, director of United Hatzalah in Ukraine, arranged for an ambulance to transport Raisa to the border with Moldova, where she was met by United Hatzalah volunteers who provided her with food and clothing and performed a medical check.

Raisa was subsequently moved to a shelter in Chisinau, Moldova, run by the local Jewish community, and last Thursday was taken by bus to Iasi, Romania, where a plane was waiting to take her and other Ukrainian refugees to Israel.

After she landed at Ben-Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv, Raisa was met by her granddaughters in a moving reunion.

90-year-old Holocaust survivor Raisa is seen on the ground at Ben-Gurion International Airport in Israel after being rescued from Ukraine by United Hatzalah.


“When the plane arrived in Israel, there were a lot of tears,” United Hatzalah Vice President of Operations Dov Maisel said. “I’ve seen my fair share of disaster zones and I don’t get emotional easily, but seeing Raisa reunited with her granddaughters brought me to tears as well.”

Michal — one of Raisa’s granddaughters — commented, “What happened here was a miracle. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”

To support United Hatzalah’s efforts to aid Ukrainian refugees, please visit: thechesedfund.com/unitedhatzalahofisrael/safetyukraine