PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — When Chasia Bobrov was only 17 years old, Germans, in their takeover of Ukraine, forced her family from their home in Sarny in western Ukraine.
Some survived by fleeing to Siberia, but many others, including seven siblings and her mother, died in the Holocaust.
“She has now flashbacks of when she escaped from Ukraine at the age of 17. And as she was escaping, her mom was killed when the Germans raided the train she was on and my mom,” said her son, Rabbi Israel Zoberman, founder of Temple Lev Tikvah in Virginia Beach.
Now at 101 years old and living in Haifa, Israel, her home country is at war again — but this time Russia is the foe.
“As I speak to my mom on the phone regularly, she keeps telling me about the experiences in Ukraine and never going back. So tragically so this evokes terrifying images of burning buildings, bombings, refugees and so forth,” Zoberman said.
As world leaders figure out a response to Russian aggression, Zoberman is concerned for the tens of thousands of Jews in Ukraine.
In 1991, he visited the newly minted democracy with so much hope. Thirty-one years later by sea, air and land, democracy is at risk.
“The Jews have been especially targeted and scapegoated whenever there is a conflict, and that part of the world has dealt with antisemitism for so long. We face extra dangers that no other group faces,” said Zoberman.
The son of Holocaust survivors was asked whether the invasion sets the stage for a potential global conflict.
“We hope not but there is the potential for it,” said Zoberman.