Urgency for Jews in the Ukraine: How to Help
Even as a new page has turned in the struggle over the future of the Ukraine, unrest continues. As I wrote in a previous message, great achievements may be possible for a gathering of citizens across the troubled country, but both an uncertain future and a barbaric past cause much trepidation for Jews in the Ukraine and throughout the world.
The Jewish community there is not monolithic. Some are relatively assimilated into the culture, others have the dress and customs of Chareidi communities like Chabad (which originated in neighboring Belarus). One of the most prominent Chabad Rabbis, Rabbi Moshe Azman, a supporter of Vladimir Putin, has been calling for Jews to leave for Israel. Some Jews, however, have joined with protesters in Maidan square even though among their ranks are ultra nationalists and neo Nazis. Rabbi Hillel Cohen even addressed the protests with words of blessing in Ukrainian and received a warm response.
Still, despite these differences about the possible outcomes, all Jews recognize that there are immediate dangers and that it does not take much to bring damage and violence to the community's doorstep. Just today a synagogue in the Eastern, generally pro-Russian, area of the Ukraine was firebombed, thankfully without casualties.
Terrible things have happened to our people within the borders of what is now the Ukraine. Whether at the hands of Cossacks or villagers, invading Nazis or ruling Soviets, Jews have been the target of murderous actions that have scarred Ukrainian Jewish history with names such as Khmelnitsky, the Easter Pogroms, and Babi Yar. What had been a center of Jewish culture, learning and creativity has been reduced for most to an afterthought and a place of remembrance. However, while the State of Israel exists in part to make sure that no Jew is ever without a safe place even through this turmoil there are still many Jews who call Ukraine home and seek support in staying, not leaving.
Our own Masorti movement, international arm of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, is appealing to raise funds for security of the Jewish community in Ukraine including the Masorti Kehila Center in Kiev.
Please click the above links to help.
L'Shalom (with prayers for a peaceful path forward)
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