TAOS, N.M. (KRQE) – A Taos teen living in Ukraine had to flee his school once Russia started bombing Ukraine. His father, a Rabbi in Taos, is now sharing the moments they were told what was happening.

“Nobody expected that Putin was actually going to invade,” said Rabbi Eli Kaminetzky. The news that Putin had started invading nearly a month ago hit Kaminetzky close to home. “One evening, they just started bombing the place,” said Kaminetzky.

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His 14-year-old son, Meir Kaminetzky, has been in Ukraine off and on since 2020, studying at a Jewish High School in Dnipro, Ukraine. “We felt it was a good fit for him with my uncle there as the Rabbi there to take care of him,” said Kaminetzky.

When Russia began its invasion. Kaminetzky says his son and thirty other students had to be ready to leave at any moment. “There was no way to get out and that’s when we started to panic,” said Kaminetzky.

Meir and the other students and faculty waited in a bunker below the school through multiple air raids. “Within a few days, they had arranged a train to export the school out of the danger,” said Kaminetzky. That train led them to Germany.

“From Dnipro to Odesa, which is like a twelve-hour train ride, and then they took buses to Moldova and eventually they made it to Dusseldorf, Germany,” said Kaminetzky.

The school has since resumed in a temporary location in Germany. For Kaminetzky, he says waiting to hear from his son was the worst part. “We are very relieved that he’s out and we pray for those that are there,” said Kaminetzky.

While he is grateful his son and the other students were able to escape, his uncle had to stay behind and he can’t forget the other millions of people not as lucky that are being impacted by the violence. “We pray for the community. We pray for the whole Ukraine,” said Kaminetzky.