MIAMI – Photos of a family of 11 huddled in a makeshift bunker, cooking, sleeping, and praying, tell the reality currently happening in Ukraine.
The photos also tell the beginning of an incredible story for Alizah Silberstein, her husband and their nine children, including twins that are just 7 months old.
“Their entire city was surrounded by these Russian tanks, and they could not get out,” said Russi Arkush, Silberstein’s sister.
Silberstein is from New Jersey and her husband, Israel, is from Brooklyn.
They moved to Chernigov in northern Ukraine 12 years ago.
The family is part of the Chabad movement of Orthodox Judaism.
Chabad rabbis and their wives go all over the globe to do Jewish outreach and provide Jewish services.
“This was their calling, this was their passion,” said Gedaliah Lowenstein, Silberstein’s brother. “They desperately wanted to help people for who there were no other Jewish resources.”
When the bombs started falling, Silberstein knew she had to get out with her husband and children, but there were challenges.
Finally, they found one road out.
They were able to get on the road, and after 50 hours, they were able to reach Moldova.
The family returned to Miami on Tuesday night, where Silberstein’s family lives, and a welcoming committee was waiting.
“Well, I’m exhausted,” said Silberstein. “It’s scary right now, that’s all I can think about. Not the things I left behind, but my friends that are back there. I hope we can get them out.”
The family has been on the road for a full week.
“They had two suitcases and one of them didn’t make it in the car. They are a family of 11 arriving with one piece of luggage,” said Arkush.
Before they even got the chance to escape, the Silberstein family was helping feed people in Ukraine while helping others escape.
They said now that they have arrived, they plan to continue that work from South Florida.