Donor support for Moishe House’s Ukraine Emergency Fund has provided essential resources to our community builders, their families, and the relief efforts they’re driving. These funds are making an immediate and significant difference in the lives of Ukrainians and one such example is the work of Pavel Bezrukov, the brother-in-law of Moishe House’s Jewish Educator, Yulia Bezrukova.


man in vest facing camera

Photo of Moishe House Ukraine Emergency Relief Campaign beneficiary Pavel Bezrukov in Uzhhorod, Ukraine.

My name is Pavel Bezrukov.
Together with my family, I live in Uzhhorod, Ukraine in the Zakarapattya region. Before the war, my wife and I were in the childcare business. We had two private kindergartens and a center for children’s creative development call The Family Place. We were also actively engaged in children’s camps during the school vacations. We held camps for groups of up to 200 children.

The war made its adjustments in our life. From the first day of the war, we decided to equip two of our facilities for the needs of refugees from all over Ukraine. We had 16 cots from the last summer camp which we put in one of our private kindergartens. After only a couple of days, the number of people fleeing the war increased significantly, and we had to buy, find, or ask our friends for more mattresses and cots. As a result, we are now hosting about sixty people. From the first day of the war, we formed a team of volunteers who were ready to help. Many members of our team also fled the war and now live with us.

In addition to hosting people, I worked with one of the local restaurants to cook food for the refugees staying with us at a minimal cost. Now people are provided with a hot lunch and dinner every day. Everyone who comes will have a hot shower, food, and all the necessary hygiene products. We are engaged in helping people all over Ukraine and Europe. More people are coming to us with different requests. Every day we receive a huge number of calls asking for help and every time we have no more room and nothing more we can do, our eyes fill with tears, and we do not understand why war came to our home, why innocent people must suffer, and the main question is how else we can help.


a woman holding a young child

A mother comforts her young child at The Family Place refugee facility in Uzhhorod, Ukraine.

A Day in the Life

Most of the cases are similar. A person calls us and asks to arrange the relocation from a place where war is approaching, to a safer location. We find out their exact location. We look for evacuation trains or buses for this person, often there is a whole family with children. They move to Uzhgorod first. Here we meet them at the station, take them to our place, and provide warmth, food, and comfort. People come to their senses psychologically and we look for the most suitable country in Europe where they can go. If we have free places to stay, we call at the station where thousands of people arrive every day and take those who do not have a place to sleep. Before the war, Uzhhorod had a population of 120,000. Now, according to unofficial data, its population has grown to 400,000-500,000. It is impossible to find a place to rent. So many people after arrival stay overnight at the station, with their children, pets, and all their former life packed just in one suitcase.  There are some very unusual cases in our practice as well. I am adding those stories below.


Real-life Stories from The Family Place

Iryna from Merefa – In the beginning of March, a woman from Kharkiv called me in tears and asked for help. She had been living in the basement of her acquaintances’ house in Merefa, thirty kilometers (18.6 miles) away from Kharkiv, for two weeks. The war was getting closer, and the explosions were getting louder, with a couple of missiles hitting the houses on neighboring streets. Several days before I had helped her niece and her children to go to Poland, so it was easy for Iryna to find my phone number and ask for my help to leave. At that time there was no more transportation between the cities. We found a private transfer in Kharkiv, who charged $150 to pick her up from the place to Kharkiv. But Iryna had only $10 in her pocket as she had left all her money and things at home in Kharkiv and the carrier only accepted cash, so I had to look for someone in Kharkiv who could pay him until I could transfer the funds. Finally, Iryna was brought to Kharkiv where the evacuation bus was leaving for Vinnytsa. There, with the help of volunteers, we found accommodation for Iryna, the next morning she went to Lviv. She then took a transfer to the city of Wroclaw in Poland, where her niece lived. Iryna is an elderly person, so the conditions in Poland were not suitable for her. We contacted volunteers in Germany and helped Iryna transfer to Dusseldorf where she currently lives in a hotel, receives an allowance, and is provided three meals a day. She is awaiting her work permit and calls me sometimes to thank me for saving her life, for the peaceful sky and a warm bed. I do not feel like I should take the credit for all of it. It was the least I could do to help her where she was.

A family of doctors from Kharkiv – On the second day of the war, on Friday evening of February 25, a young woman named Katya called me and said they had barely escaped the shelling in Kharkiv and were now on their way to Uzhhorod in four cars. She asked if I would be able to help them. By that time, my wife had put up a post on our Facebook page that we could help the refugees. I told Katya that of course I could and that I was waiting for them in Uzhhorod. I did not know how many people were coming and who they were. In the first days of the war, all the roads in Ukraine were full of cars, and several hundred thousand people were fleeing the war simultaneously. So, the trip which would normally take 20 hours took almost four days. After four days on the road with no sleep, they finally arrived and were immediately provided everything they needed. In fact, the only things they needed were beds and showers.

As it turned out, that group of seventeen people were all employees of one of the best cancer hospitals in Eastern Europe, headed by their chief physician and one of the best surgeons in practice. Eight of them continued to go to Europe, and nine decided to stay. Among those who decided to stay was the head doctor and founder of the medical facility, Zelensky Olexandr – one of the best surgeons and oncologists in Eastern Europe, and his wife. Their son, Roman, and his wife are also doctors at the hospital. Accompanying them were Katya, her mother, her sister, her husband, and their infant daughter. They all worked in different positions in the hospital and are now helping to save lives in Uzhhorod. Doctor Zelensky does three or four surgeries a day. His son Roman works in our field hospital, Roman’s wife gives consultations in one of the local clinics, Katya – former executive director of the clinic, administers the patients, searches for medicine all over Europe, and makes sure everyone gets help in time, while Katya’s mother who is a surgery nurse, helps Olexandr in every surgery.

Ivan from Mariupol – Ivan, along with his wife and little son, miraculously escaped through the humanitarian corridor from Mariupol. They came in an old car, which had bullet holes shot by Russian soldiers. They came and could not speak. They were just watching our peaceful life and could not believe that it could really be like this in Ukraine. Ivan’s parents lived in Mariupol. He saw a bomb fly into their house. His parents died immediately. They did not have any chance. We helped Ivan’s wife find a place in Prague, where she left with her son, and Ivan stayed with us in Uzhhorod because men from 18 to 60 years old are not allowed to leave Ukraine during the war. We tried to talk to Ivan and help him calm down. But we realized that we cannot understand his grief.  

The Rest of the Story

I would like to say that every day the situation is getting worse. There are more stories like Ivan’s. If in the first weeks of the war people drove their cars, the majority can now only take the evacuation trains. Those who were sitting in the basement under bombardment for three to four weeks then escaped and came to Uzhhorod wearing just a tracksuit and have nowhere else to return, because they have no home. People whose parents were killed in front of their eyes come to us; some had their husbands or wives killed, and some lost their children. These people no longer have cars, jobs, or businesses—nothing from their lives before the war. All they carry with them is the life that fits into one small suitcase.

Moishe House is honored to support Pavel Bezrukov and The Family Place through the Ukraine Relief Fund. We thank him and his family for their incredible work and for so beautifully authoring this testimony of their experience throughout the war.