El presidente de Ucrania, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, en el centro, visita la línea del frente en la región de Donetsk, en el este de Ucrania, el 17 de febrero de 2022. (Oficina de Prensa Presidencial de Ucrania vía AP) (Oficina de Prensa Presidencial de Ucrania vía AP)
Ukraine Tensions

Many have decided to leave before the fighting intensifies, said a local Jewish community activist.

By United with Israel Staff

As tensions rise in Ukraine with a Russian invasion of the country imminent, the Jewish community is preparing for the worst, stocking up on essentials.

Adding to the fear is the sound of gunshots in Donetsk, erasing any doubt that the country is on the verge of war.

Pro-Russia Donetsk, situated in eastern Ukraine, is capital of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), which declared its independence  in 2014, following by ongoing conflict. Ukraine regards the DPR – along with the Luhansk People’s Republic, the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, and Sevastopol – as one of four temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine.

Approximately 3,000 Jews live in Donetsk.

“Everyone went to the gas stations today and filled up not only the gas tanks in their vehicles, but also external fuel tanks. They are very afraid that an attack will begin and there will be no possibility to refuel,” local Jewish community activist Aryeh Schwartz told The Jerusalem Post.

Many have decided to leave before the fighting begins, he added.

Igor Shatkhin, assistant to Rabbi Avraham Wolf, Chief Rabbi of Odessa, told Israel National News that they are “working now on two fronts” to help keep the community safe.

“One front is spiritual. We want to ensure people’s peace of mind that everything will be okay,” told the news site.

“At the same time, we’re also working on the material. We have purchased tons of food just to be sure that we have food in case of a Russian invasion.”

Israel has been urging Jews to leave Ukraine ahead of the escalation and has ordered Israeli citizens to return home.

Earlier this week, however, Kyiv Chief Rabbi Yonatan Markovich said that his community, alongside other Chabad emissaries, will remain in the country.

Kosher food packages paid for by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) were delivered to the community through the local Chabad organization, Schwartz told the Post.

Nonetheless, Ukrainian Jews have been fleeing the country over the past decade. In 2018, some 400 Jews from Ukraine made Aliyah via two special flights coordinated by the IFCJ.

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