A Jewish soldier from Kiev named Ruslan battled valiantly but nearly perished in the Donbas minefield.
He had the honor of putting on Tefillin with Rabbi Jonatan Markowitz of Kiev while he was recuperating in a hospital, and they recited “Bricas HaGomel,” praising Hashem for his survival.
Ruslan called Rabbi Jonatan Markowitz, but he had no idea what the man on the other end of the line was going through. Ruslan, who has spent 30 years residing in Kyiv, was extremely familiar with Rabbi Markowitz, the city’s head rabbi and a Chabad Shliach. Ruslan wanted to join the fight even though he was past his twenties because he wanted to bring about peace.
We succeeded in liberating certain regions from the control of the enemy after putting forth a huge amount of effort when the Russians were nearby when I was dispatched to the Donbass region to fight last winter. Mines and explosives were present in the liberated regions, and the forces had to take great risks to clear them. Ruslan explained, “I was chosen to lead the soldiers, and I helped them clear the region because I know the area with my eyes closed.
“The operation was exceedingly perilous because of the explosives, missiles, and the presence of trees in these locations. Many of my friends were seriously injured and evacuated.
Ruslan sadly lost his leg after stepping on a mine during one of the operations and suffering major injuries a few months later. Ruslan was luckily saved and rushed to the hospital, where he sustained significant head and back injuries.
The rescue effort was difficult, and after his close friends risked their lives by penetrating the minefield, Ruslan was miraculously saved. Ruslan’s leg had been severed when Rabbi Markowitz visited him for the first time at the hospital. Ruslan requested a prayer and a thank-you to God for his continued survival despite the horrific wounds.
Rabbi Markowitz described the moments over the bed of the injured soldier as “an exciting situation.” “Jewish hero Ruslan sacrificed his life to defend his country, his family, and his brothers. He said thanks for being allowed to go back to his family and for receiving his life as a gift while wearing tefillin on his head.
Many troops operating on the front lines of the conflict are in contact with the Chabad JCC community in Kyiv, which provides them with love and care while also attending to their spiritual requirements.
Every holiday eve, the soldiers receive deliveries of kosher food, Tefillin, prayer books, cloth parcels, and whatever else they might require.