Committed to Rescuing Ukraine’s Jews

August 14, 2014

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Dear Friends of of The Fellowship,

Ukraine is at war. I can’t say that the Jewish community is being targeted specifically, but bombs, mortars, and bullets do not discriminate. And we cannot lose sight of the fact that threats and acts of anti-Semitism are escalating all over.

In Ukraine, train stations have been bombed, phone lines are down in many areas, and our volunteers are going into the cities at night at great personal risk, finding those who are trapped, and bringing them to safety in a refugee camp. The number of these frightened and displaced Jewish Ukrainians is growing.

Many people are waiting the war out, but increasingly there is a growing realization that the fighting will continue in Ukraine for a long time. This is increasing people’s interest in making aliyah (immigrating to Israel).

I’ve visited the refugee camp in Ukraine. It was surreal — I was greeted with a small carnival-like celebration complete with cotton candy. And yet, these are refugees. They’ve had to leave everything. One businessman told me he had a gun held to his head and was told to leave his business to the rebels and get out of the city.

I talked to another man who was there with his grandson. His daughter and granddaughter — the boy’s mother and sister — were killed last week by a bomb in a city park. A woman told me her grandparents are survivors of the Holocaust, and she never thought this would be repeated two generations later during her own lifetime. She had to send her kids ahead of her to safety; she was only able to join them later.

The Fellowship is making a very serious commitment to rescue these Jews in peril — to help them come to Israel, where they will be protected and free to practice their faith without fear of persecution. As I write this, 450 Jews have already asked for rescue. We have only a small window of opportunity to get these Jews out of danger. One thing is clear: We must get them out while there is still time.

With prayers for shalom, peace,

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
President and Founder, International Fellowship of Christians and Jews® of Canada


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