Hunting Wolf to Donning Teffilin
A Boy’s Transformation from a life of wanting to Jewish
Cincinnati, OH —
Fourteen-year old Aaron T.
recalls with pain the hardships he went through in a Ukrainian
forest trying to stay alive. “We lived out of a tent
for two years in the bitter cold,” he says. “We
would collect wood and make fires to keep ourselves from
“We hunted rabbit and deer for food and from time to
time we would get a wolf. We barbequed the meat and tried
to make a living by selling the hide of the animal at the
market place. With the few rubbles we earned we would go
and buy bread to survive,” Aaron tells the Lubavitch
Not that Aaron was homeless; he was forced to leave his home
in the Ukrainian city of Moheyleyv-Podelsk because his father,
an abusive alcoholic, would beat him and beat his brother
and mother Faina. “We ran away from our father and
lived in the forest under the open skies,” he tells
the shaliach, who relayed his story to FREE.
When he finally arrived to this country to stay with his
uncle Yakov, Faina’s brother, in Cincinnati. The Lubavitch
shliach in Cincinnati heard of the boy’s plight and
arranged to bring him to Camp FREE, last summer, so that
he can enjoy great summer fun, with (new) friends of Russian
While Aaron was settling in the U.S., Faina got sick with
breast cancer. She was being treated, and Aaron was flown
to New York, where a Crown Heights family took him in. He
studies at the FREE “yeshiva Ohel Dovid” High
School, and is supported by FREE and his caretaker family.
Last year as Aaron’s bar mitzvah approached, FREE bought
for him a pair of tefillin and flew in his mother from Cincinnati.
FREE made all the arrangements for a festive bar mitzvah
celebration. Aaron now dons his tefillin daily and davens
with ferver, praying that his mother completely recuperates.
And he’s become a good student at the yeshiva.
Aaron’s story is one of many in which FREE answers
the call of Russian Jews needing assistance in improving
Together with Chabad-Lubavitch’s worldwide network,
FREE provides the physical and spiritual tools to help transform
a life bereft of Yiddishkeit and happiness into a Jewish
life of normalcy and belonging.
Click here to read this story in The Jewish Press
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