My wife, Zhanna was born and raised in Kharkiv, the Ukranian city where President Viktor Yanukovych is believed to be, after he fled Kiev amidst violence and riots. That city is where a pro-Yanukovich forum was held today, and we have spent the week worried about, and speaking to her family there. Last Shabbat, we spent the weekend at the largest Shabbaton ever for Russian speaking American Jews, where I was the keynote speaker for the National Russian Jewish Shabbaton, by Chamah International.
We are very involved in the Russian-speaking community, and hope that this situation passes safely for the Jewish community. Those helping the community of 200,000 Jews should be commended, as there are many strong institutions in the region. Speaking to numerous Rabbis and Jewish leaders in the region regularly, it is important that the Jewish community stands as one. The 750,000 Russian-American Jews constitute great Jewish souls, and the Jews of the former Soviet Union have made Israel a much stronger nation.
The Ukranian crisis is not likely to pass quietly or quickly – let us hope and pray that the Jews of the region remain safe.
Ronn Torossian is a PR executive, and longtime board-member of the largest Russian-American Jewish organization, RAJE (Russian-American Jewish Experience.)