World Jewry has every reason to show concern over the security of the Ukrainian Jewish community, which numbers as many as 400,000.
The nation’s civil unrest over President Viktor Yanukovych’s refusal to tighten ties with the European Union, opting instead to favor Russia, led to his fleeing Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, over the weekend. He’s wanted as a criminal for “mass killings of civilians.”
There has been violence that has affected the Jewish community no less than others.
And there have been organized anti-Semitic extremists within the protests that began in November, even as many Jews were among those who took to the streets to protest Mr. Yanukovych’s corruption.
The situation is highly fluid and unpredictable.
The Ukrainian Jewish community has reported an increase in scattered acts of anti-Semitism. Local Jews have been careful not to wear kippot in public, and security at Jewish institutions has increased.
Firebombs hit at least one Ukrainian synagogue Sunday night. The Giymat Rosa Synagogue in Zaporizhia, about 250 miles southeast of Kiev, reported no injuries from the attack.
The American Joint Distribution Committee reported giving immediate assistance to Jews living in or around Kiev. Natan Sharansky, chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, also said that assistance for Ukrainian Jews would come from the Emergency Assistance Fund for Jewish Communities, which was established after the 2012 terror attack on a Jewish school in Toulouse, France. This fund helps global communities work through security concerns.
(As a reminder: The Joint Distribution Committee and the Jewish Agency are only able to look out for the global needs of Jews around the world because of the support they receive from the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey and other federations across America.)
As the world watches an uncertain future for the Ukraine, as a flashpoint in the developing cold war between the west and Russia, the Jewish Agency’s Sharansky said, “We have a moral responsibility to ensure the safety and security of Ukraine’s Jews.”
We agree with Mr. Sharansky – and note that the “we” who share that responsibility includes us in New Jersey as much as Sharansky in Jerusalem.
Local student acts as “Our man in Kiev.” Page 6.
-LY & PJ