German President Visits Ukraine Jewish Refugee Orphans

In a caring gesture, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier sat down to eat a meal with the Jewish children of FJC’s ‘Mishpacha’ Orphanage in Odessa who were evacuated from Ukraine.

On Monday, the President of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his wife Elke Büdenbender paid a special visit to Chabad of Berlin, to meet with 120 orphaned children refugees from Ukraine.

The children of the Mishpacha Orphanage in Odessa were among hundreds evacuated from Jewish orphanages throughout Ukraine amid the escalating violence.

120 children – the youngest just 35 days old – from Odessa were evacuated to Moldova, and after a 3-day journey through 5 countries, arrived in Berlin on Friday, just in time for Shabbat.

“We realized there was no way we could keep them in the city anymore. We had to get them out,” Chabad Rabbi Avraham Wolff, the chief Rabbi of Odessa, told the media.

Since 40 of the children do not have passports, flying was out of the question. With the help of diplomats and security officials from Israel, Germany, and other European countries the children would have to travel through, they finally made it to Germany.

During a visit to the Chabad Center on Monday, the President was greeted by Rabbi Yehuda Tiechtel,  Chief Rabbi of Berlin. They held a brief prayer for peace in the Chabad Shul.

The President joined the children for a meal and spoke with them about their journey and experiences.

“We would like to stand by them and make our contribution so that they can find peace here and have the opportunity to process the experiences of their flight,” the President said.

“It was very moving and inspirational that the president of Germany and his wife came today to spend time with the children visiting the Chabad Center,” said Rabbi Tiechtel. “It shows the importance of the children here. Together we will overcome all challenges, we will be there for our brethren, with love care, and dedication,” he said.

Based on an article by By COLlive reporter
Photos by Stephan Pramme

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