Ukrainian Child Refugees Pray for Peace at the Western Wall

Monday, March 28, 2022

The Ukrainian children being hosted by KKL-JNF in Nes Harim embark on an excursion of the Holy City for the first time.

After years of dreaming of Jerusalem, the Ukrainian child refugees staying at KKL-JNF’s Nes Harim Center finally got to visit the Holy City. One hundred children and staff members set out for a day trip to Israel’s capital, of which the high point was a visit to the Western Wall.
“We had always wanted to come to Jerusalem – and now, here we are,” declared Chaya Mushka Kolesnik (14).
The refugee children have come from a Chabad residential facility in Zhitomir in northwestern Ukraine. When war broke out, they fled and embarked upon a long and perilous journey to Israel. Since their arrival KKL-JNF has hosted them at the Nes Harim Field and Forest Center.
The tour of Jerusalem began with the Western Wall tunnels, where the children traveled back in time and, with the help of the ancient stones, learned the story of the Jewish People. As they made their way along the subterranean passages, they saw ancient ritual baths and water conduits, streets from the Second Temple period, impressive stone arches, and a quarry from which stones for the Western Wall were hewn. Their guides explained these archeological artifacts, and through them, made ancient Jewish history come to life.
“It’s very interesting to learn more about Jerusalem,” said 11-year-old Osher Bukiet. “We talk about Jerusalem the whole time, and we turn to it in prayer, so of course we’re happy to visit here.” His younger sister Rivki added, “I’m very excited to stand in the place where the Temple once stood.”
Jerusalem’s ancient history combines with modern advanced technology to offer a virtual visit to the Second Temple. The children donned 3D glasses and set out for a 360° view of the beauties of the structure that had stood for approximately 585 years until its destruction by the Roman Empire in response to the ongoing Jewish resistance against its rule.
Afterwards they took part in a bat-mitzva ceremony in the Western Wall tunnels, and each child received a Bible as a gift. After a very Israeli lunch – falafel in pita bread, what else? – they took time off to relax and unwind with balloons and an inflatable. From the roof of the Aish HaTorah World Center building they looked down at the Western Wall Plaza and the Temple Mount.
From there they descended to the Western Wall, whose ancient stones have always aroused inspiration and longing in the Jewish People. “This is my first time in Jerusalem, and I’m very glad of this opportunity to pray at the Wall,” said 9-year-old Mark Charnevsky.
The children approached the Wall and immersed themselves in heartfelt prayer. Some also wrote notes and placed them in cracks between the stones. Many of them must have pleaded for the war to end and for peace to reign in Israel and throughout the entire world.