Caring for Ukraine

It’s hard to believe that five weeks ago, Russia invaded Ukraine in their campaign to take over the country. The ongoing “breaking news” flashing on our TVs and on social media describes the latest on the devastation that Russia is bringing to Ukraine and the escalating humanitarian crisis. It is hard to watch, to listen to, or to read about, but we can’t hide away.

This war affects us all – in the present and in the future. Not just in inflated gas, wheat and other food prices, or through the influx of Ukrainian immigrants to the U.S., or in our heartbreak for human beings needlessly suffering. The war is not just about Ukraine; it is about all of us.

Our Jewish values demand that we reach out to care for Ukraine and her citizens and to help those countries who are overwhelmed with assisting over 4 million refugees who have left Ukraine. Many of us have helped in different ways: we have contributed money to relief efforts, contacted our representatives, featured the blue and yellow colors of the Ukrainian flag in a variety of media to show support. And still we ask: What can we do?

We can look back through Jewish history and heritage and see our people’s ties to Ukraine. Some of us can look to our own family history for the same link. At Temple Emanuel Sinai, we have fellow congregants who were born in Ukraine and made their way to the United States much more recently. What can we do? We can reach out to them especially, show our care and support, inquire how they are doing and ask about family and friends directly impacted. Then we can ask them our question: What can we do? What should we do?

Tatyana and Jacob Gorodetsky grew up in Ukraine and came to the United States in the early 1990’s via Belarus. Their family has been part of our TES community for many years. They welcome your questions and have some concrete ideas on how we can all help. Feel free to contact Tatyana through email: tghm1155@gmail.com.

I often find it meaningful for prayer to be the last words that linger with us – on our lips, in our ears, on our hearts and minds. These lines from “A Prayer for Peace in the Ukraine” by Rabbi Sabath Beit-Halachmi articulate what I’ve been feeling and what I imagine many of us have been feeling.

…We stand together with our brothers and sisters in the Ukraine,
the birthplace of so many of our ancestors,
a place where the Jewish people has known both light and darkness.
We pray for a quick end to the raging conflict and the senseless bloodshed.
May our people remember that wherever a Jew is in danger or hurt,
we all feel that danger and pain as well.
As they seek cover from the life-threatening missiles
and fire falling from the sky, as they help the elderly
and hug their children tightly, and defend their homeland,
we pray that they can maintain hope that a Sukkat Shalom–
a canopy of blessing and peace–
will soon emerge above them.
May all the innocent people in the Ukraine and throughout the region
know that we are with them. Even from afar, we hear their cries.
May they know that we will continue to advocate for peace among nations
and that we will strengthen our commitment to aid and protect
every human being…”

Amen.

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