The 84-year-old Anatoly recently set off from Ukraine to live in Israel. A couple of years ago he became completely blind after an unsuccessful eye operation. This didn’t stop him to take the big step and leave his country of birth for good to “go home”.
“During the Holocaust little Anatoly is hidden for two years in a cellar in Mariupol”
During the Holocaust little Anatoly is hidden for two years in a cellar in Mariupol, where the woman next door takes care of him. His father and grandparents are murdered. His mother survives the war and together with Anatoly she tries to start a new life in post-war Ukraine, suffering under the yoke of communism. The Holocaust becomes a “forgotten chapter”, a taboo subject. Anatoly proves to be a good student. As an engineer he manages a large construction company, he marries and gets two daughters. When in 2014 the war in East Ukraine explodes and numerous missiles are fired at Mariupol, Anatoly relives the trauma of his time in the cellar. He chooses “to go home for good”, to Israel.
His daughters do not want to go with him, afraid of the unknown, and try to stop Anatoly as well. “If none of you want to accompany me to Israel, fine then, I will go alone and if I must, on foot.” That wins his youngest daughter Svetlana over and together they prepare to leave. When the time comes, they are collected by Koen and his team. A long drive of more than fourteen hours in dense fog, passing road blocks and over bad roads. When Koen asks how Anatoly is doing during the drive he invariably replies: “It is a fairy tale. Why don’t you drive us all the way to Israel? It is so comfortable here in this minibus.” Once in the airport lounge in Kiev all fellow passengers look on edge, except Anatoly. Hand in hand with daughter Svetlana he confidently walks towards the aircraft, towards his new future.
“If none of you want to accompany me to Israel, fine then, I will go alone and if I must, on foot.”
“See, I will bring them from the land of the north and gather them from the ends of the earth. Among them will be the blind and the lame, expectant mothers and women in labor; a great throng will return.” (Jeremiah 31:8)