Ukraine’s Jewish community; We must support them!

I saw a status update come over my newsfeed on Facebook, from a friend in New Zealand, expressing sincere sympathy at the plight of Jewish students in Ukraine. At the present time the world is standing around condemning Russia for showing their military might in the region. Obama is telling Putin that Russia will be on the wrong side of history, and the latter is responding with Russia has the right to take all measures. The rhetoric is loaded, and the tensions are at an all-time high.

Most are looking at the bigger picture, the realities of what this conflict could bring to a region that has over a millennium aged history book, with its pages primarily documenting war and strife. Some are looking at the inner politics of Ukraine, what brought this conflict to the forefront of the world’s media. But very few are looking at individual stories, and understanding severe hardships that are taking place on the ground.

Last month it was reported that Jewish students had been beaten by anti-government protestors, this past week, synagogues were attacked and vandalized. The Chief Rabbi of Ukraine advised his students and community to flee Kiev, and if possible leave Ukraine altogether.

As campuses around the world rally together in support of the anti-Israel movement, when attacks on Jewish students and synagogues are on the rise globally, and when we gather together as a people to celebrate the festival of Purim expressing our ability to overcome prejudice and the planned disposal of our people thousands of years ago, we must act for sake of our Jewish brethren in Ukraine.

It is not enough that the Israeli embassy has advised against Jews travelling to the area, nor is it enough that security has been hired to protect institutions and organizations from planned attacks. We, the collective Jewish people must stand up and do something, we are obligated as the Talmud states in Sanhedrin 27b, kol yisrael areivim zeh la zeh, all of Israel is responsible for one another. As was reported in the Times of Israel last week, the Rabbi of the Tamid synagogue urged the Jewish world to stand in solidarity, to raise its voice en masse in order to stop this tyranny. Explaining that while the community is poor and with low spirits, it is not a question of money, but a question of freedom.

Each and every one of us must employ any means possible to express our solidarity – writing to our local representatives to urge them to act, raising funds for the support of the Ukrainian community, and ensuring that this issue is voiced at every area within our society; synagogues, schools, JCC’s, federations and campuses.

Let us not be on the wrong side of history when it comes to supporting our people.

About the Author
Originally from Auckland New Zealand, much of Alon's time over the past ten years has been for the growth and development of community. Alon has an MA in Sociology from the University of Auckland, and is a graduate of Yeshiva University's Semicha program. He is the Rabbi of the ACT Jewish Community in Canberra, Australia. Alon also holds a degree in Medieval Jewish History.