Ruslan, a Jewish soldier from Kiev, who almost lost his life in the minefield in the Donbas region, donned Tefillin and recited Hagomel with Kiev Shliach Rabbi Yonasan Markowitz while recovering in the hospital.
Ruslan, a Jewish soldier from Kiev, fought fiercely but almost lost his life in the minefield in the Donbas region. While recovering in a hospital, he had the privilege of putting on Tefillin with the chief rabbi of Kiev, Rabbi Yonasan Markowitz, and recites ‘Bricas HaGomel’, thanking Hashem for his survival.
When Rabbi Markowitz received a phone call from Ruslan, he did not imagine the situation that the man on the other line was. Ruslan has lived in Kyiv for 30 years and knew Rabbi Markowitz quite well, as the Rabbi who serves as a Chabad Shliach in the city and is chief rabbi of Kyiv.
While he is no longer in his twenties, Ruslan still wanted to join the war to bring peace and quiet to the people of Ukraine. Last summer he joined the army and was sent to fight in different places. “I was in Chernigov after the Russians fled, and I cleaned the area of the mines and bombs they left” says Ruslan.
“Last winter I was sent to the Donbass region to fight at the front line, after a tremendous effort, when the Russians are close to us, we managed to release some areas from the hands of the enemy”.
The liberated areas contained mines and explosives, and the soldiers had to risk their lives to clean the areas. “Since I know the area with eyes closed, I was chosen to lead the soldiers and I helped them clean the area” Ruslan said. “The missiles, mines and the fact that these are areas of forests, made the operation extremely dangerous. Many of my friends were evacuated with serious injuries”.
After a few months Ruslan tragically lost his leg, after one of the operations during which he stepped on a mine, and became seriously wounded. The rescue effort was not easy, and after his close friends risked their lives entering the minefield, Ruslan was miraculously saved and taken to the hospital where he suffered serious injuries to his head and back.
When Rabbi Markowitz came to visit him for the first time at the hospital, he saw that Ruslan’s leg had been amputated. Ruslan asked to pray and thank G-d for staying alive despite the unthinkable injury.
“It was an emotional situation” Rabbi Markowitz describes those moments over the wounded soldier’s bed. “Ruslan is a heroic Jew who gave his life to protect his homeland, his family and his brothers. When tefillin were on his head, he said the bracha of Hagomel for being able to return to his family and receiving his life as a gift”.
The Chabad JCC community in Kyiv is in contact with many soldiers serving on the front lines of the war, giving them love and taking care of their needs, and also of their spiritual needs. Every holiday eve, the soldiers receive deliveries of kosher food, Tefillin, prayer books, cloth packages and any need.