Developments in Georgia, as reported by JDC field staff (August 13)

JDC SOS Van Delivers Clients to Safety 

As we reported yesterday, the JDC SOS van, which is usually used to deliver assistance to elderly Hesed clients, has become an emergency vehicle under the charge of JDC field staff, helping transport Georgian Jews of all ages from areas under heavy attack to safety.  The van is also being used to bring critical relief such as food, water, and medicines to clients who have chosen to remain in their homes.

On August 12th, due to a sudden air raid, the JDC SOS van had to stop five kilometers before the entrance to the city of Gori.   It was impossible to proceed into the city and JDC staff watched as residents escaped by foot carrying only their bare necessities.   A call came in to the JDC SOS van’s mobile phone:  “Save us! Please save us!” screamed an elderly woman into the telephone.   “Our house is bombed!”   Between the weeping and a disrupted connection, the JDC team learned the name of the sisters who placed the call and the name of their residential street in Gori.  Their names were on the list of Jewish residents who were Hesed clients and were scheduled to be rescued in the day’s mission.

The JDC staff arrived to find three elderly sisters who were crying and yelling and demonstrating a good amount of panic as they sat amidst their scattered belongings which were what remained of their home.

The oldest sister Zina (age 75) and the youngest sister Manana (aged 60), with tears and horror in their eyes, begged their middle sister, 70-year-old Bella, to evacuate with them.   Bella refused: “I’ll stay and keep the house for all of us. And you should go with the guys.”

At the very last moment, a frightened elderly woman -- one of their neighbors -- ran up to the bus, begging that the JDC staff should take her with the others.  The bus left with three evacuees on board.

JDC SOS Van Delivers Humanitarian Aid Packages 

The JDC van’s next stop was the almost ruined house of the Frankel family:  mother Irina burst into tears when she saw the bus arriving at her door.  Having no transportation, Irina and her husband could not leave their house; their 15-year old developmentally disabled son was in shock and unable to go on foot.

While the father was putting their belongings in the van, a neighbor named Natela was helping her friend Irina prepare to leave.  In the conversation with JDC staff, Natela revealed that she and her husband were Jewish.  When it was suggested they evacuate, she thanked them but refused: “My husband is a doctor in the local hospital. We just can’t leave when so many people need medical assistance and so few doctors are available. We have decided to stay. . . .”  The JDC team left the family with packages of humanitarian aid, enough so that her husband could distribute the packages in the hospital to the neediest patients.  “We are facing here every minute dozens of people who desperately need food –- today even bread is great deficit!  These packages are sure to save the lives of many!” said Natela.

Today’s report is one more example of JDC’s ongoing commitment to ensure safety and security of Jews wherever and whenever they are in need.  We will keep you posted.  Please also visit www.jdc.org for more information and updates.