Rabbi Moshe Asman
Rabbi Moshe AsmanChabad Kyiv

Around 13 thousand people fled from their homes yesterday in parts of Ukraine that are seeing fighting, and millions of refugees are struggling to find a safe place to stay, both in Ukraine and beyond. On Sunday, Rabbi Moshe Asman, Ukraine's Chief Rabbi, spoke with Radio 103FM and related some of the specific problems of the Jewish community.

"I've gotten used to plenty of things over the past few weeks," Rabbi Asman said. "There are so many emergencies happening all the time where we're called to help - many of them literally life-and-death situations. There have been cases where people, and especially Jews, have been stuck in cellars or basements for up to a week, without sufficient food or water."

Reports of the slow but steady Russian approach toward Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, have many residents concerned beyond the regular bombings. But is it true that Russian forces are just 20 kilometers beyond the city center?

"It is true, and I can tell you that based on the evidence of my own eyes. They are closing in."

Rabbi Asman added that the Ukrainian resistance continues to be fierce. "This is basically a national war," he related. "People prepare Molotov cocktails and toss them whenever they get the chance. And the army is strong, too. The Ukrainians are highly motivated, whereas morale among the Russians is low. They're basically just sending their soldiers to be slaughtered."

And what about the people left in Kyiv who aren't capable of manning the barricades? How many are still in the city?

"I have no idea. Every day, a few buses leave Kyiv and other cities. People are on the move all the time. And it is becoming more and more expensive to hire buses. Fortunately, I was able to find several people who agreed to lend me the money needed to hire transportation, and I promised them that I would repay the loans after this is all over.

"But it's getting harder and harder to find buses too. A few times it happened that we found a bus and hired a driver and he simply panicked and ran off."

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