Hatzalah Head: Ukraine Jews 'Miraculously Saved' on Friday
Rabbi Hillel Cohen, chairman of Hatzalah Ukraine, told Arutz Sheva that protesters in the central square of Kiev felt that they had achieved a victory, with the departure of President Viktor Yanukovych. “People are crying out of emotion,” he said. “Kiev has undergone several difficult weeks, and now a difficult, and bloody, weekend.
Rabbi Cohen said that it appeared that the situation was calming down. “Now that Yanukovych is gone it appears to be over, but actually it is during transition times like these that the danger increases.” According to reports, public acts of anti-Semitism have grown significantly in recent weeks. Arutz Sheva's Russian-language sources reported disturbing facts on the ground Saturday, claiming that the Ukrainian police forces -- who are loyal to Yanukovych -- have been making open threats against the Jewish community there. They have also been promoting anti-Semitic propaganda, according to the reports.
Despite those reports, Rabbi Cohen said he had not had any problems. “The people here are being very respectful to me, despite the fact that I cannot be mistaken for not being Jewish,” he said, as he wears clothing associated with the hareidi community.
With that, Rabbi Cohen said there had been several anti-Semitic incidents. On Friday, he said, a group of Polish Jews who were in the country called him in a panic, saying they were about to be attacked by a large group who apparently took them for Yanukovych supporters. “That attack was prevented miraculously,” he said, “when the Polish Jews convinced the group that they were just visiting, and were not Ukranians at all.”
He also said he was not minimizing the danger in the country. “Until order is restored, we are recommending that everyone act with great caution,” he added.