The following was sent on Thursday morning as an email on behalf of the World Union for Progressive Judaism. The bottom of this post includes a link to donate to help Jewish communities in Ukraine during this time of crisis.
Dear World Union Family: In the past few weeks we’ve shared with you what has been happening in our communities in Ukraine. We’ve all seen the heartbreaking photos of one of our synagogues in Crimea covered with anti-Semitic graffiti and swastikas. We are in close contact with our local leadership. We were happy to hear that students from the international Hillel organization held a “Good Deeds Week” and chose to paint over the graffiti as their good deed. However, we have now been informed that the Simferopol Synagogue building is in need of urgent repairs – the roof is leaking and may collapse at any moment.
The WUPJ has initiated an emergency campaign to support our communities throughout this crisis, and to provide urgently needed protection measures, supplies, equipment as well as assistance with the installation of security systems.
At this time, the most urgent short term needs are the physical state of the building in Simferopol, and tightening the security measures. We are asking for assistance now, since these steps must be put into action immediately. Please do what you can so our family in Ukraine can return to the task facing an entire generation – rebuilding Jewish life, which was lost over the last century.
The media coverage for the situation has been extensive. The UK’s Jewish News reports that the “shul has been turned into a fortress” and there are concerns for the continuity of the congregation in Simferopol. Israel’s Ha’aretz reports that the community in Crimea is divided between pro-Ukraine and pro-Russian Jews. Other media sources talk about the fears and worries that the people face there. Our local leadership have been interviewed on radio and TV stations – both local and international, such as NPR (radio) and Israel’s TV 10-News.The support from our global family has been heartwarming – through fundraising, emails and phone calls, and helping to raise public awareness. Alyth North Western Reform Synagogue (London) are in close contact with the Crimean Kerch community as we reported in WUPJnews #788. Zoya, the Jewish Community Administrator in Kerch said “Please, pass our words of gratitude to all our dear friends at Alyth who pray for us and who think about our community. Thank you so-so much for your kind and supporting words. God bless you.” The Leo Baeck College, London, published a brief press release, expressing “deep concern the events unfolding in Ukraine.” Congregation Ner Tamid in Simferopol has also been in a twinning relationship with Beth Emet The Free Synagogue, in Evanston, IL and they will be sending recently raised emergency funds, along with funds that have been contributed from the Jewish Federation in Chicago. Reform congregations working with the Nashville Federation have also collected funds for upgrades to the security system. These are just a few of the many efforts being made across the globe to ease the suffering of communities in Ukraine.
As we begin to prepare for Shabbat and for the up-coming Purim festival, let us remember our fellow Reform Jews in Kiev, Crimea, and across the whole Ukraine, who are going through difficult times. We pray for their safety and for the return to peace for all citizens in the Ukraine.
To make a contribution, please visit WUPJ GIVING. If you’re using a credit card, please mark “Kiev Appeal” in the box that says, “Enter description.” Please call Rabbi Gary Bretton-Granatoor with any questions or concerns: 212-452-6531 or firstname.lastname@example.org.