Ukrainian sisters discover each other’s existence ahead of flight to Israel

The Warszewski sisters’ names were called in order by Jewish Agency personnel, so they naturally fell to talking – and discovered they shared a father.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Two Ukrainian sisters who spent their entire lives in Kyiv discovered each other’s existence ahead of boarding the plane taking them from their wartorn country to Israel, Ynet reported Thursday.

The revelation came about as they stood in a Warsaw hotel that the Jewish Agency and Israeli consulate have been using over the last two weeks as a base for potential immigrants fleeing Ukraine.

An Agency official called the names of all those boarding the next flight to Israel in alphabetical order, so of course Valentina and Mariana Warszewski came one after the other. They naturally began talking and quickly discovered to their complete surprise and delight that they shared the same father.

“The most incredible thing is that in all this chaos of war, we found each other,” Mariana told Ynet.  “We thank the Jewish Agency, thank Israel and love it even more after our meeting in Warsaw. We boarded the flight together, like one big family…. What joy, what a miracle.”

“It’s an amazing thing,” added Valentina. “Who would believe that of all places, here is where we’d discover each other?”

Mariana, 53, never saw her father again after he divorced her mother when she was a child.  She has had two careers, first as an engineer and then as a psychologist. Valentina, 46, is the product of his second marriage and worked as a banker until the Russian invasion turned her life upside down.

Both decided to leave Kyiv for Israel on the third day of the war, as each has a son who had immigrated to the Jewish state. Mariana’s son Pavel, 26, came four years ago and settled in Ramat Gan, while Valentina’s son, Nikita, made aliyah when he was 18 and lives in Haifa.

Valentina also brought her 13-year-old daughter Masha and the family cat. Her husband was left behind due to the emergency law forbidding men between the ages of 18 and 60 from leaving Ukraine.

The Warszewskis were on a flight of about 150 new immigrants that landed in Israel early Thursday as part of a major airlift of Ukrainian Jews called “Operation Israeli Guarantees.” Israel is expecting to bring tens of thousands of fleeing Jews to the country in the coming months, mainly from Poland, which has taken in so far over half of all Ukrainian refugees totalling over two million.

“We will fill up the planes, come back to Israel, and then fly back again and pick up more refugees,” Jewish Agency deputy director general Yehuda Setton said on Wednesday.

“Our hearts are with our homeland, Ukraine, and our beloved Kyiv. I hope that it will all end quickly,” Valentina said.

For these two sisters, at least, one good thing has come out of the war. As they said, it “has bound us together forever.”