An “Israir” plane flew to Moldova earlier this week to bring an Israeli Covid patient to Israel, Channel 7 has learned.
Members of the Chabad House in Chișinău, the capital of Moldova, assisted in the rescue of a 40-year-old Israeli citizen who contracted the corona virus in the country.
The plane was leased by the patient’s insurance company, and he was the only passenger on board apart from the crew. The “reward” for the Moldovan Jewish community, which assisted in the bureaucratic procedures, was receiving Shmura Matzah for the Seder night.
The citizen, who is about 40 years old, contracted corona while traveling in the country, and was assisted by Rabbi Mendy Axelrod, Shliach to Moldova.
“He came to the Chabad house last week to buy kosher food and it later became clear that he contracted the virus. A rescue company that works with his insurance contacted me to ask if we can bring an Israeli oxygen generator. I was looking for a rental device for him and could not locate one, because there is a long queue. Eventually I found a company that sells a generator which I purchased and brought to him because his oxygen level was low. He seemed to be suffering, and I understood from the professionals who spoke to me from Israel that it was saving lives. The rescue company later contacted me to inform me that they sent a rescue plane. They also asked if I needed anything. I asked if they can bring the Matzos that we purchased from Israel but had thus far no way of bringing them here, because from last year’s experience I was afraid we would get stuck without Matzos for the Seder night.” he added.
Last year, immediately after Covid-19 broke out, Moldova’s land and air borders were closed, and the Matzos arrived in the country via an Israir rescue plane a few days before the Pesach.
When the Israir rescue plane hired for the mission landed on Sunday night in Chișinău, Rabbi Axelrod accompanied the sick Israeli citizen in a special ambulance to the airport, where an Israeli medical team was waiting. “I felt that I helped save a Jewish live and it was very exciting. It is a great privilege for me,” says the rabbi.
Moldova is considered the poorest country in Europe and is home to some 5,000 Jews. 185,500 of its inhabitants have so far been infected in Corona and the death toll stands at 3,949, including some Jews.
At the head of the Jewish community in Moldova serves Rebbetzin Leah Abelski whose late husband Rabbi Zalman OB”M passed away about a decade ago, prior to which he served as the rabbi.
There are three couples who serve as Shluchim throughout Moldova, including Rabbi Mendy and his wife Chaya Mushka Axelrod. Chaya Mushka is the granddaughter of Rebbetzin Abelski. “We are three grandchildren who came with our families to help my grandmother on the Lubavitcher Rebbe‘s mission that she began about 30 years ago,” says Chaya Moshka.
“Every year we would celebrate the Seder in all its glory, with the participation of hundreds of Jews in several cities in the country, but this year we still do not know how we will do it, because of the virus and the restrictions, which we will of course abide by. On Purim we conducted small capsuled meals to not exceed the limit of twenty people under one roof. We read the Megilah, distributed Mishloach Manos and tried to celebrate, but of course the situation clouded the joy of Purim. We hope and believe that by Pesach the situation will calm down and we will be able to celebrate the Seder as before.”
Rabbi Zusha Abelski of New York who manages the organizational aspects of the community, says: “We tried to send Matzah from the US, but did not succeed. We were very worried that this year, too, getting Matzah would involve stress and uncertainty until the last minute, but because of this flight we succeeded (even earlier than most years) in bringing hundreds of kilograms of Shmura Matzah, to be distributed to as many Jews as possible.”
The condition of the Israeli who was evacuated from Moldova is now defined as serious and he is hospitalized in Tel Hashomer.