In his weekly column, Rabbi Zalman Vishedsky, Shliach in Basel, Switzerland, shared the following story:
There is much talk in the news of the life-saving efforts of Chabad Shluchim in Ukraine in the past 2 weeks, assisting thousands to escape the violence, and offering relief and food inside Ukraine and refugees throughout Europe and Israel.
The stories are emotional, and have brought respect for the Shluchim and overwhelming emotion.
One story which I found truly emotional, was the story of one small suitcase.
Leah, is a young Jewish girl who lived with some friends alone in Kiev. When the bombing began, she came with her friends to my brother and sister-in-law’s home in Kiev, Rabbi Pinchas and Dina Vishedsky, who serve as Shluchim in the city.
The girls lived in my brother’s home for a few days, and then most of the girls headed home to their parents’ homes in various places. But Leah alone remained.
She had one suitcase with her, in which she had all her possessions – her entire life in this one suitcase.
On Motzei Shabbos two weeks ago, she asked to join a convoy of vehicles that Chabad was arranging, out of the city.
After a quick check, they realized there was room in one of the cars for Leah, but not even a drop of space for her suitcase.
Without much time to think, Leah grabbed a bag and put in it a few items, and got in the car for the 20-hour ride to the border.
And from the border, who knows how many more hours and to where. Just like that, with the clothes on her back.
The convoy made it past the border successfully, and a large group of people made aliya to Israel through Romania, a day later.
Leah was able to make it on that flight, still holding her little bag.
The next day, there was another convoy that left Kiev, this time, they were traveling a more dangerous route. This time my sister-in-law, Dina Vishedsky, who organized the convoy with her husband, remembered Leah and the suitcase which held her entire life, and made sure to reserve a spot for her suitcase.
Leah had no idea that the Shluchim, who had remained in Romania to continue their life-saving efforts to help their community escape, had worried about her little suitcase.
The next day, the suitcase arrived Leah’s apartment in Israel, sent by a kind messenger arranged by the Chabad Shluchim.
A story of one small suitcase – I was moved. That’s how I am.