Holocaust survivor Kateryna, 90, to enjoy Seder with family in North London after fleeing Ukraine

Kateryna Razumenko escaped Kharkhiv with her daughter and they are living in a Jewish Blind & Disabled apartment


Ninety-year-old Holocaust survivor Kateryna Razumenko will be sitting down to Seder with her twin three-year-old great-grandsons in North London - a month after fleeing Ukraine with her daughter Larysa.

She had lived through the Holodomor - the famine inflicted on Ukraine by Joseph Stalin in the 1930s in which millions perished - and evaded the Nazis during the Second World War, as her parents moved from village to village.

But Russian shelling of her home city of Kharkhiv forced her to leave the country for the first time.

After a journey by train across the country and then by bus, which took them over the border to Poland, they joined other refugees in a Jewish community centre outside Warsaw. They were hoping to reach the UK, where Larysa’s daughter, Katya Newman lives with her family, but found themselves stuck as a result of the UK’s slow-moving visa process.

Katya’s husband, Zac, flew to Poland to help get them out.

They have now been rehoused in a Jewish Blind & Disabled flat.

“My grandmother is grateful for any little thing, for the smiles people give her,” Mrs Newman said. “And while she is worried about relatives who have stayed behind, she is taking it easier than my mum.”

Her mother heard only the other day of a missile that landed in the courtyard of the block Kharkiv where she lived.

“We are still trying to bring more relatives from Poland,” she said. “They have applied for UK visas but the process is still slow.”

Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg of New North London Synagogue had offered to host one of her cousins, her cousins’ twins and mother - whose visas had been applied for two weeks ago.

When she and Zac spoke about her mother and grandmother’s flight from Kharkiv to Chabad Mill Hill East, its director Rabbi Dovie Schochet, said she had asked if there was any way to get Russian Haggadot for them as they had fled without any belongings.

“After hearing the miraculous story of how these two ladies escaped Ukraine, I knew I needed to get them Russian Haggadot immediately,” Rabbi Schochet said.

Recounting their story to the shopkeeper in Jerusalem the Golden bookstore in Golders Green, a fellow customer overheard. “He came to me and insisted on sponsoring these Haggadot.

“I always marvel at these random acts of kindness and the Jewish community coming together for each other. A truly fitting message for Pesach.”

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