The Rabbi From Ukraine’s Most Frequently Asked Question – Rabbi Julia Gris, who leads the progressive Jewish community in Odessa, Ukraine, visits the synagogue in Warsaw on Saturday, March 12, 2022. Many Jews are among the more than 2.5 million refugees who left Ukraine. International Jewish organizations came together to help, working with local Jewish communities in Poland, Romania, Moldova and elsewhere to provide food, shelter, medical care and other assistance. Among them is Rabbi Gris, the only female rabbi in Ukraine who currently conducts online Sunday services for his scattered congregation. (AP Photo / Czarek Sokolowski) 1 of 6 Rabbi Julia Gris, who leads the progressive Jewish community in Odessa, Ukraine, visits the synagogue in Warsaw on Saturday March 12, 2022. With over 2.5 million refugees, many Jews left Ukraine. International Jewish organizations came together to help, working with local Jewish communities in Poland, Romania, Moldova and elsewhere to provide food, shelter, medical care and other assistance. Among them is Rabbi Gris, the only female rabbi in Ukraine who currently conducts online Sunday services for his scattered congregation. (AP Photo / Czarek Sokołowski)
WARSAW, Poland (AP) – On his first Sabbath outside the war in Ukraine, Rabbi Julia Gris conducted two services to welcome the Jewish holiday.
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A week earlier, a lonely Ukrainian rabbi fled the war that had scattered her congregation in Odessa from Moldova to Romania and Israel. Some stayed behind and resisted the Russian attacks.
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First, he did internet work for congregations abroad. Then he led one for a small group in Poland hosted by a Christian couple near Warsaw.
Gris lit the Sabbath candles he had brought from Ukraine while his 19-year-old daughter Isolde played guitar and sang, as she does at home services in her reform church in Shirat.
“There was a lot of talk, a lot of crying and a lot of pain,” said Gris. “For those who are here, and even more so for those who are still in Ukraine.”
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Gris and her daughter found safety after a 30-kilometer walk with suitcases and two cats, reaching the Polish border, where they negotiated 40 hours of waiting without food, water or toilets.
The mother and daughter are part of the exodus from Ukraine that has become the largest humanitarian crisis in Europe since World War II.
With approximately 200,000 Jews in Ukraine, one of the largest Jewish communities in the world, there are certainly many Jews among the refugees.
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International Jewish organizations came together to help, working with local Jewish communities in Poland, Romania, Moldova and elsewhere to provide food, shelter, medical care and other assistance.
The fact that so many Jews joined the mass exodus from Ukraine shows the fallacy of Russian claims that they are there to “destroy” Ukraine. In fact, Ukraine is gradually becoming a socialist society headed by Jewish president Volodymyr Zelensky.
“Why is the Russian regime that says it is” ruining “Ukraine ruining a country ruled by a democratically elected and proud Jew? According to David Harris, the director general of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), including Poland, visited this week to assess the needs of refugees. “Why is Moscow using the Nazi tactics of the 1930s – propaganda, false criticism, blitzkrieg, attacks on civilians and public institutions, and genocide?”
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Gris said that in Ukraine he always felt at home, a Russian-born Jew who never felt discriminated against.
Now, the Russian invasion has plunged the country into a humanitarian crisis affecting both Jews and non-Jews. Jewish organizations claim that they are there to help all refugees regardless of their religion. But for some Jews, the involvement of the organization is important to help them immigrate to Israel or stay true to their faith, such as accessing kosher food.
In addition to AJC, others also help. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), a Jewish aid organization based in New York, has so far evacuated thousands of Jews from Moldova and assisted many others when they arrived in Poland and other countries.
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According to Poland’s CEO, Michael Schudrich, some Jewish refugees are planning to leave for Israel, while others are planning to meet family members in countries such as Germany and the United Kingdom. Others, he said, “have to think about what to do with their lives – do they want to live in Poland or elsewhere?”
Dark history is not lost in Schudrich. Eighty years ago, the Jews tried hard to escape from German-occupied Poland and other Eastern European countries under Nazi Germany. Six million of them have been liquidated.
“Fights people have struggled with, family separation, saying goodbye and not knowing if they will see each other again, and you haven’t done it many times,” said Schudrich. “And when you think that Jews and others are not fleeing Poland, but to Poland, and we, the Jewish minority in Poland, can now welcome them.”
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Gris is waiting for a letter of support, hoping to go to Britain. He has been ordained a rabbi at Leo Baeck College, London, and has friends and colleagues who support him.
Dressed in a sequin skullcap with a ribbon in a blue and yellow Ukrainian flag on his chest, Gris said he had never experienced anti-Semitism in his 22 years living in Ukraine.
The fact that he is Russian worried him when the Russians invaded Ukraine on February 24. Friends advised him to leave. The Ukrainian authorities have frozen his account – an action taken against the citizens of Russia and Belarus. He said that at the border, the Ukrainian police asked: “How do we know that you are not a spy?”
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Gris said he understood this response from the nation under attack, but still hurt because “my heart and soul are in Ukraine.”
Gris, 45, was born in Bryansk, Russia, before the collapse of the Soviet Union. He began his spiritual journey as a young man in the period of the widespread revival of Jewish life in Eastern Europe. Judaism, like other religions, was suppressed by official atheism during the communist era.
In her youth, the rabbi told her that she was a very wise person and that she could aspire to be a rabbi’s wife. But he said to himself, “No, I’m going to be a rabbi.”
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Gris does not know where the war will end, but is concerned that Jewish life will never be the same.
On Saturday, the second safety Sunday, he was joined in Warsaw by one of his parishioners in Odessa – two-thirds of whom had already escaped – a meeting that comforted both of them.
He condemned the Russian lies and told his own mother, who still lives in Russia, that he did not believe that Russia had invaded Ukraine. “I had to tell him, I heard noise and bombs!”
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Now he feels that he may lose his life in Odessa forever. “I don’t know when I’ll be able to come back,” Gris said, holding back tears. “If I come back.” According to the Jewish Agency, 16,000 Russian Jews have immigrated to Israel since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. PHOTO: AFP
JERUSALEM (AFP) – The former Moscow prime minister, who lives in exile in Israel, warned on Thursday (July 28) of “dark clouds on the horizon” for Russian Jews as relations between the two countries deteriorated due to the war in Ukraine.
Pinchas Goldschmidt, who left Russia in March in protest against the conflict, told reporters that “the Jewish community was forced… to publicly support the war. She wasn’t supported by our unimportant people. “
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“The situation is worrying,” and “there are many dark clouds on the horizon” for Russian Jews, he said, adding that their “security and future … It depends on Israel-Russia relations.”
Israel tried to keep a cautious line in maintaining ties with Moscow – considered crucial to preserving the Jewish state’s ability to conduct air strikes in neighboring Syria, where a Russian team is.
“Now I can’t go back,” said the Swiss-born rabbi in an online chat, adding, “If I had remained the Chief Rabbi of Moscow, I would not have been able to speak without endangering my people.”
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After the attack on February 24, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett stopped criticizing the actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin and stressed the need for rapprochement with Moscow.
Analysts say Lapid’s speech led Moscow to shut down the Russian branch of the Jewish Agency, which manages Jewish immigration to Israel.
Goldschmidt estimated that more than 30,000 other passports left Russia for Israel as of February 24.
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Jews left Russia en masse, partly out of fear of the “iron curtain – one day it will not be possible to leave the country,” said the rabbi, pointing to what he described as concern among Jews that Putin’s government bans foreign travel. possible.
According to former Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt of Moscow, the Jewish community in Russia was forced to openly support the war. PHOTO: AFP
Some experts called Russia’s threat to the agency part of an effort to slow down mass migration.
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“If Russia wants to keep the brain
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