An email from Steven Cadranel on his flight to Poland
For those of you that haven’t read Eric Robbins’ Facebook or Linked-In post, I hope you will find it and follow us on this Solidarity Mission for the next 72 hours as we make our way to Poland and its boarder with Ukraine to let the displaced people there know they are not alone.
Last night, in preparation for this trip I downloaded Instagram and set up the account I had been avoiding for years. But my wife, Janet told me I’m better with words than I am with pictures and I should try to capture and share my thoughts and feelings. So here goes……
I am writing this message on the plane at 1:00 AM Monday morning Atlanta time. Eric, I, and about 250 pounds of socks, warm clothes, diapers, toiletries, snacks, and other basic necessities we stuffed in 4 oversized duffle bags negotiated our way through check in with have been in the air for almost 7 hours now. We are crossing the Atlantic with another 2 hours to go till our layover in Amsterdam. From there we fly to Warsaw, Poland to join 27 other people making the same trek from Federations around the country to begin immersing ourselves into the reality we have all been watching on TV the past 3+ weeks.
Difficult as our lives have been the past 4 years, as soon as I showed Janet Eric’s text asking if I could join him for this trip, she immediately gave me her blessing and encouragement. Her father was born in Kobryn, Poland & immigrated to Atlanta September 17, 1920. The Battle of Kobryn was September 11-23, 1920 during the Polish- Soviet Union War. So she knows how important our help is to the people there now.
Just the same, she, our daughter, Lauren, and the rest of our family can’t help but be worried. Lauren is wise for her years and explained to me that she’s not so concerned that the danger in Ukraine will spill into the boarder areas we will be visiting. She, Janet, and I know our group will be kept safe. But she is worried about the pain, suffering, and heartache we will be witnessing and the lasting impact it may have on me. She and Janet know me better than anyone and they are with me for this journey.
As I’ve said to a few people, just 6 weeks ago Ukraine was home to about 44 million people, including more than 200,000 thriving successful Jews, all going about their lives, their businesses, and their families no different than we do ever day. And somehow, in less than a month, they have suffered immeasurable heartbreak, devastation, and loss. Wives, mothers, and children have been separated from their husbands, fathers, and sons. They and the elderly have had their lives uprooted, slammed to the ground, and reduced to what little they were able to grab and carry,
Fortunately, we are privileged to be the ones bearing witness and not the ones fleeing our homes in reliance on the capacity and compassion of strangers in far away cities and unfamiliar places.
For more than 75 years we have confidently proclaimed “Never Again!” But now it is on us to demonstrate the meaning of that commitment! How we respond to the events of this moment will define us as individuals and as a Jewish people for generations to come.
If you have already made a donation to the Federation’s Ukraine Emergency Fund, THANK YOU!
And if you haven’t had an opportunity to contribute to the much needed relief, NOW is the time! Please give to the Federation’s Ukraine Emergency Fund or the relief effort of your choice.
And please share this message with others and encourage them to follow your lead.