Ukrainian Jews are fearful in light of the current instability and violence. Member of Knesset Rina Frenkel, who immigrated to Israel from Kiev, Ukraine, in 1990, has lobbied for a budgeted plan to bring the Ukrainian Jews to Israel now.
Amidst reports of chaos and rising hostility towards Jews since the deposition this month of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, Jewish communities around the world have expressed concern and the Jewish Agency announced emergency aid. In an article published today in the Jerusalem Post, Rina Frenkel, Member of Knesset (Israel’s Parliament), has begun lobbying for “a formulated, budgeted government plan to bring the Jews of Ukraine to Israel.”
Reports of anti-Jewish violence in recent weeks include anti-Semitic graffiti, telephone threats and a firebomb thrown at a synagogue, which caused minor damage.
“The establishment of an independent Jewish state with a sovereign government and an army is a way of saying ‘Never again.’ Now is the time to turn that saying into action,” Frenkel stated in a letter to Netanyahu, the Post reports.
“Not only will Israel save these Jews from possible harm, we will finish the process that began in the 1990s in absorbing immigrants from the [Former] Soviet Union. After the successful integration of immigrants then, I am sure that the rest of Ukrainian Jewry will contribute to the State of Israel and the Aliya will contribute to the immigrants themselves,” Frenkel wrote.
Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky held an emergency meeting over the weekend to assess the situation, following which he announced that his organization will extend immediate emergency aid.
“The Jewish community of Ukraine, which counts some 200,000 members [estimates range from 70,000 to 340,000], is one of most vibrant Jewish communities in the world, with dozens of active Jewish organizations and institutions,” Sharansky said on Saturday evening, adding that the Jewish Agency remains in close contact with the Ukrainian Jewish leadership. “Recent events have shown that we must strengthen these institutions’ security measures. We have a moral responsibility to ensure the safety and security of Ukraine’s Jews.”
UKRAINIAN JEWS MAINTAINING LOW PROFILE AND HIGH SECURITY
Rabbi Moshe Azman of Kiev has advised his co-religionists there to keep a low profile.
“Over the past few months, many Jewish institutions have simply gone into hibernation, suspending activity during the turmoil,” according to a Jewish Telegraphic Agency report. “But others have carried on their work under heavy security.
“The Jewish Confederation of Ukraine, which runs the Orach Chaim day school in Kiev and several other institutions, has been paying $1,000 a day for round-the-clock security by teams from two private firms, one of which also provides security for the Israeli embassy in Kiev,” JTA adds. “Together, staff guard nine buildings, including four school buildings, a community center, a synagogue and a religious seminary, according to Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich, the confederation’s president and a Ukrainian chief rabbi.”
Rabbi Menahem Margolin, director of the Federation of Jewish Organizations in Europe, implored Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon to act urgently and to send trained security personnel to protect the Ukrainian Jewish communities for fear of violent anti-Semitic attacks.
“Reports from the communities indicate a worrisome trend, in which the acts of violence are focusing increasingly on Jewish targets as time goes by – and there is no one to save the victims,” Margolin stated. “The challenge is clear, as is the complex nature of taking security measures in a foreign sovereign country. But this is undoubtedly a Jewish emergency.”
Date: Feb. 27, 2014