The Jews of Ukraine: What can we do?

Hello Rabbi Fried,

First of all, Moshe and I keep davening for Myra. May Hashem bring about a miraculous recovery for her.

Rabbi Fried — my heart goes out to the Jews in Ukraine.

However, I cannot forget that the Ukrainians were as bad to the Jews as the Nazis.

Pogroms, slaughters, I could go on and on.

I feel as if Hashem is performing midda k’neged midda, measure for measure, for all they have done to us.

I don’t know how the Jews fit into all this (and I also never understood why Jews would stay in a place where they were routinely slaughtered).

Perhaps you can give me some clarity,

Shavua tov,

Dear Vera,

Thank you for your kind wishes for my mother.

As you say, the Ukrainians, along with the Poles and others in Eastern Europe, inflicted the most horrible atrocities upon our people during the war and after as well, when many Jews who had survived the war attempted to return to their homes and were met with pogroms to keep them away.

That being said, in the absence of prophecy I always hesitate to make predictions or give explanations as to why particular events are happening, i.e., to assume it’s a measure-for-measure payback. Although those types of things certainly do occur, it’s not for us to decide them.

The biggest immediate concern we need to have, and can do something about, is to participate in one or more of the organizations collecting funds for the Jews of Ukraine. Although it may come as a surprise to us, Ukraine is home to some 270,000 Jews, the fifth largest population of Jews in the diaspora and the third biggest in Europe.

Historically, whenever there are warring factions, the biggest losers are the Jews, who usually are not accepted by either side of the conflict. That’s why what took place subsequent to the Holocaust is significant. We’re dealing with the same people and when order breaks down it puts our brethren at risk.

For this reason, we need to join the financial efforts in the humanitarian crisis currently taking place there with the Jewish community and the attempts to aid as many as are able to be taken to safer places, including, and especially, Israel.

Jews around the world have also joined together in prayer for the welfare and well-being of our brothers and sisters in Ukraine. Everyone should do so whether at home or in shul.

There is a bigger long-term issue which needs to be addressed, not for this forum, and that is the attack on the world order that this invasion represents and where it ends. That could affect us, Israel and the world in a much bigger way than we know, and we need to keep our pulse on world events as they unfold as a result of this invasion.

May we witness the final salvation of Hashem and the return of all our exiles to our homeland, with peace and tranquility, speedily and in our days.

Rabbi Yerachmiel Fried is dean of Dallas Area Torah Association.

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