Kiev
Kiev iStock

As the situation becomes increasingly dangerous for Ukraine’s Jewish community, Kyiv Chief Rabbi Yonatan Markovitch is using his synagogue for aid and shelter, it was reported on Thursday.

Rabbi Markovitch and his wife Inna have a store of six tons of food and 50 mattresses at the Kiev Jewish Center (KJC), they said during a virtual press conference.

“We woke up today at 5 a.m. hearing a siren. It was very frightening because there is no infrastructure here, no bomb shelters, no organized information, or help from the government as unfortunately we are used in Israel,” Inna said.

They opened up the synagogue so that “people could come here. There is no bomb shelter anywhere but at least we are together and we can feed them.”

While many members of the city’s Jewish community have been able to leave, there are still reportedly hundreds of Jew who are unable to flee Kyiv for lack of finances or due to physical disability. Others trying to flee the area have been unable to leave after finding roads blocked or congested, with many being forced to return to Kyiv.

Rabbi Markovitch, whose statements were translated into English by his wife during the meeting, said: “We are worried that the escalating situation may lead to looting and riots that may arise on the Ukrainian side, similar to what happened in 2014.”

“We are afraid about an antisemitic attack because now we don’t know what will happen when there is chaos. If, for example, the police collapse, bad people will feel free to take whatever is not theirs,” he added.

“We have Israeli passports, and we could have left but we decided to stay here,” Inna said. “Not because we are careless but on the contrary, we have a flourishing community of 2,500 Jews here that depend on us. Currently we have 50 people here with us coming with children. We can be here for a week.”

Inna explained that one of her regular visits is to a 104-year old Holocaust survivor, who is afraid that she will be abandoned.

“She was holding my hands crying: please don’t abandon us. She is not the only reason we stay, but we have 200 like her who are bedridden, needy people. [They] depend on us for hot meals.”

(Israel National News' North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Israel National News articles, however, is Israeli time.)