Completing the Torah scroll
Completing the Torah scrollCourtesy of the photographer

Two years after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, and several months after the beginning of the war in Israel, the writing of a special sefer Torah (Torah scroll), dedicated to the Jewish community in Ukraine, residents of the Land of Israel, and the hoped-for peace in both countries, has been completed.

The Torah scroll will be brought in the coming months to Kyiv's Great Synagogue JCC, Beit Menachem.

The initiative for writing the Torah scroll was undertaken by Rabbi Yonatan Markovitch, the Chief Rabbi of Kyiv and Chabad shliach (emissary) in the city, who works tirelessly to strengthen solidarity between Israel and Ukraine. The writing of the Torah scroll began shortly after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wrote the first letter in his office in the presidential bunker in Kyiv.

Among those who wrote a letter in the Torah scroll are Israel's chief rabbis, Rabbi David Lau and Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef; Jewish soldiers in the Ukrainian army; members of the Jewish community in Kyiv; families of abducted Israelis; families of Israeli victims of the war; and families of soldiers who fell in battle in Gaza; as well as prominent rabbis and other influential Jews in Israel and the Diaspora.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog was honored with the writing of the final letter in the Torah scroll at an emotional ceremony held at the President's Residence in Jerusalem. Also present at the moving event was the Beilin family from Sderot, whose mother Zina Beilin was among the first victims killed by Hamas terrorists on the morning of October 7 in Sderot. The Beilin family immigrated to Israel from Ukraine and settled in the city of Sderot. Zina was killed moments after leaving the home of her elderly mother Galina, where she had arrived as soon as the sirens began.

At the moving ceremony, President Isaac Herzog said, "Throughout thousands of years of exile, wherever they were in the world, the Jewish people united around the Torah scroll. Even today, we are in an especially challenging period, where the Jewish people and the Western world are defending themselves against enemies who oppose the values of truth and the desire to live in peace and tranquility. Therefore, the integration of forces between the Jews of Israel and the Jewish community in Ukraine constitutes a powerful force multiplier for the survival and continuity of the Jewish people. There is nothing more moving than being a part of writing a Torah scroll that symbolizes this special unity, especially now."

Rabbi Yonatan Markovitch, the rabbi of Kyiv, commented, "It is a great honor for us that both distinguished presidents, representing all the citizens of their countries, saw it fit to participate and inscribe a letter in the sefer Torah that symbolizes unity."

"When we began writing the sefer Torah, we did not think we would reach a situation where our brothers, the people of Israel in the Holy Land, would also be under the threat of cruel war. The common denominator between the Jews of Israel and Ukraine is the story of Jewish heroism and resilience. The Jewish community in Ukraine greatly appreciates the assistance it received from Jews around the world and from Israel, immediately upon the outbreak of the war, and the connection between the Jewish fate in Israel and Ukraine strengthens everyone and highlights Jewish pride."