Amid the chaos in Ukraine, Chabad on Wednesday announced a new donation initiative for the holiday of Purim. The money will help Ukraine's estimated 350,000 to 500,000 Jews "survive in these terrible times," Chabad said.
The unrest which led to Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's ouster in February has been accompanied by an upsurge in anti-Semitic attacks. Jews have been targeted in Crimea as well, which was taken from Ukraine by Russia in late February. Further, Rabbi Moshe Wasserman, Chief Rabbi of Ukraine, warned that Jews are likely to be drafted in case of a looming war with Russia.
Chabad notes that one of the religious obligations of Purim is to give donations to the poor. The organization's campaign urges supporting the beleaguered Jewish communities of Ukraine, where over 170 Chabad emissary couples are stationed.
Rabbi Yisroel Silberstein of Chabad, serving in Ukraine's Chernigov community, roughly 43 miles from the Russian border, reports "we’re living in a situation where there’s real fear in the streets -- we don’t know what is going to be tomorrow."
"The head of the army is announcing that Ukraine now faces a full-scale invasion. Hundreds of thousands of troops are lined up at the border...tanks, planes, helicopters. There is a real fear here that in a matter of hours, they could be in our streets," warned the rabbi.
Rabbi Silberstein notes the Jewish community suffers from a lack of food, and that money is being used to hire armed guards given the anti-Semitic attacks.
Despite the situation, Chabad centers are planning Purim events at secure locations. “Purim has been going on for 3,000 years,” noted Rabbi Silberstein, adding “G‑d willing, it won’t stop now.”
Those interested in supporting the Chabad effort for Ukrainian Jews can donate here.
The state of anti-Semitism in Ukraine has led to calls for Jews to be protected before the country can join the European Union. Meanwhile, MK Rina Frenkel (Yesh Atid) last Monday announced plans to bring Ukraine's Jews home to Israel.