But Ukraine’s Chief Rabbi says crisis is “nothing to worry about.”
By Pesach Benson, United With Israel
Israel warned Ukrainian Jews to be ready for a possible evacuation if war breaks out with Russia. But Jewish leaders said the situation hasn’t reached crisis level just yet.
“It’s nothing to worry about,” said Rabbi Moshe Azman, one of Ukraine’s chief rabbis, as quoted by the Jerusalem Post. “This is just Israel taking the opportunity to promote more aliyah among Ukraine’s Jews.”
The rabbi was quoted by the Post saying the situation hasn’t reached a level of urgency to justify to even warrant such a discussion.
Azman’s wife agreed, but added that since the Holocaust, she’s always been prepared to leave on short notice.
“I’m a 13th-generation Ukrainian,” she said. “My whole family survived the Holocaust only because they were always ready to escape, so I am also always ready.”
This week, Israel began preparing to potentially airlift Ukrainian Jewry. Officials in Jerusalem assess that around 75,000 Jews in Ukraine qualify for Israeli citizenship through the Law of Return.
The largest concentrations of Jews are in and around the cities of Kyiv, Odessa, Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk. It’s not known how many would choose to leave for Israel or move elsewhere.
According to Haaretz, Israel had contingency plans in the late 1980s for an emergency airlift of large numbers of Jews from the Soviet Union. Those plans are being dusted off and updated now.
However, despite the increasing risk of war, there has been no significant rise in Ukrainian Jews seeking to immigrate.
Israel’s last major airlift was Operation Solomon, a covert operation in which 14,000 Ethiopian Jews were evacuated within 36 hours amid a civil war.
Tensions have risen as Moscow has massed more than 100,000 soldiers along the Russia-Ukraine border.
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