The day of the Russian invasion Yaroslav, his wife and their daughter drove from Kyiv to the Slovak border in an attempt to escape.

In line to cross, they learned that men between the ages of 18 and 60, due to martial law restrictions, were prohibited from exiting Ukraine.

It was now illegal for Yaroslav to exit the country.


Slovakia  Border

So they turned to a nearby family member’s home for refuge.

After 3 months of sheltering in place, Yaroslav decided he had to act.

He sent his wife and daughter on a bus to Moldova to meet Jewish relief groups

and hatched a plan to illegally leave Ukraine.

Yaroslav made his way to a river on the border with Ukraine and Moldova

and in the middle of the night

waded across.

Through a series of hitched rides on the Moldovan side

Yaroslav met his family in the capital, Chișinău.

His eyes welled with tears describing the reunion.

Yaroslav accidentally left behind an essential document for the family’s immigration eligibility appointment.

But a cell phone photo proved sufficient for Israeli authorities,

who also made no issue of his illegal exit.

Jewish organizations then purchased flights for Yaroslav and his family from Moldova to Israel.

He says the entire process, from his arrival in Moldova to the departing flight, took

4 to 5 days

In Israel, the family was given free lodging at a hotel in Jerusalem.

The Jerusalem Gardens Hotel, Yaroslav's former residence

"I always imagined Israel as something advanced, better.  I see that Ukraine is better in many ways. I wish to come back home."

After Yaroslav's family left the hotel to settle into their new apartment in the beachside town of Hadera,

he expressed some disillusionment.