Young Reuven and Mendy are being raised at the Jewish children’s home in Moscow, Moshe is already 18 and active in the Jewish community of Almaty. Yet, Margarita their little sister remained with an adoptive family in Semipalatinsk.
Little Margarita is forced to go to Church.
Time is passing and who knows what will be her fate?
This thought gave no rest to Rabbi Elchanan Cohen, the devoted Shliach in Almaty who worked tirelessly to find a solution.
On his last visit to Semipalatinsk about three months ago, he visited the adoptive family together with Jewish community leader Mr. Arkady Resnick. He spoke to them and explained that for the girl it would important to be with her brothers in Moscow. There they get everything they need, food, health and education. Understandingly, they agreed that when the documents were arranged, the girl would join her brother.
Last week, the process progressed and finally reached the municipal where they provided their full support. As soon as the adoptive mother signed the waiver document, Rabbi Elchanan Cohen and his older brother Moshe traveled to Semipalatinsk, to meet the girl and receive legal guardianship over her.
Rabbi Elchanan Cohen tells:
“We arrived in the town of Semipalatinsk on Wednesday and immediately met with her in the municipality. It turned out that our mission was not yet accomplished, an important document was still missing.
We immediately got in on the action and tried our best to expedite the process so we get back to Almaty before Shabbos.
The mayor, who understood the importance of the matter, instructed one of his aides to deal with the matter personally. However, one document which was due to arrive from Almaty, was delayed and postponed the final approval. At that point, there were no direct flights to Almaty and no chances that we would get home before Shabbos.
Friday morning arrived. We prepared food for Shabbos and met with Margarita’s biological mother at the hotel.
We ran to the market to buy electric stoves, pots, vegetables, fish and everything needed for the Shabbos table. A car was sent from Ust- Keminagorsk with a bottle of kosher wine for Kiddush. A Matzo box from 2017 was found at the mother’s house.
Straight from the market, we ran to the river to use as a Mikvah to dip the dishes.
In the meantime, I was informed that the document from Almaty was accepted.
Two hours before Shabbos, we barely reached the hotel or had time to cook. We invited community members to join us, but it turned out that the hotel was too far from their area of residence and they did not want to desecrate the Shabbos. So we were left with plenty of food…
While running to the market, I invited the mother to meet the girl and celebrate Shabbos with her brother.
The meeting was special and exciting, the girl and the mother hugged while emotional tears dripped from my eyes.
The uncle was able to put on tefillin and the girl looked at him curiously.
Margarita and her mother lit candles and looked at each other, it was a moment of happiness.
Shabbos came in. We prayed the “Kabbalat Shabbat” with joy and melodies as if we were in the synagogue.
I sang “Shalom Aleichem” with Moshe the brother and we had a thanksgiving dinner for saving the girl.
The most meaningful message was related upon reading the daily study from the book of Hayom Yom:
(Parshat) Bereishit is a cheerful sedra, even though its ending is not all that pleasant. Noach has the Flood, but the week ends on a happy note with the birth of our father Avraham. The really joyous week is that of parshat Lech L’cha. We live every day of the week with Avraham, the first to dedicate his very life to spreading G‑dliness in the world. And Avraham bequeathed his self-sacrifice as an inheritance to all Jews.
It was difficult at the beginning of the week, but at the end we finally got the girl.
Finally, on Monday of Parshat Lech L’cha she entered the Jewish life in the path of Avraham our father and Sarah our mother.”
The girl traveled to Moscow together with Rabbi Cohen and the mother stayed in Semipalatinsk. She is happy that her daughter will be able to receive a Jewish education and grow up together with her brothers under the care of Rabbi Menachem Gul of Moscow.
“Shehechiyan Vikimanu Vehigianu L’zman Haze!”