The following letter was sent from Rabbi Alexander Dukhovny, and was shared by the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) on March 8, 2022.
Last Friday, after spending 10 days in the basement of an apartment building in Kyev with a longtime friend and dozens of other neighbors, and receiving news about Russian troops taking control of the nuclear plants in Chernobyl and Zaporizhya, we and the entire Hatikva congregation members got a message about a rescue bus sent by the joint Jewish organizations. We had two and a half hours to pack a small suitcase and leave. The bus ride took 16 hours on back roads and we crossed two checkpoints on the Ukraine-Moldova border. At 2am on Saturday we arrived at a Soviet-style military base in Kishinev, the capital of Moldova. There, after getting our tickets for a rescue flight to Israel, we received dozens of letters of support from old and new friends around the
world. We spoke with the Israeli Consul in Moldova – who was very helpful – and I took the opportunity to call the Hatikva congregants and give them some support.
Last night we finally boarded our flight to Israel and now I’m in Haifa, where the next phase of my life begins.
All the events that are happening with Ukraine and its people, with my congregations and their members, with my colleagues and with me personally, are like a horror movie. But in cooperation with Jewish organizations, our communities there – Hatikvah Progressive Jewish Congregation, in Kyiv; Shirat HaYam, in Odessa; Chaver, in Cherkassy; Beth-Am, in Poltava; Teiva, in Lviv; as well as our congregations in Lutsk, Chmelnitskyi, Uzhgorod and a few other in small towns – are providing all needed support to their members.
The needs of each person or family are different: medication, financial support, moral, spiritual or physical help.
Financial support for those who left everything behind, fleeing to a safer place (some to western Ukraine, others abroad), and for those who need money to resettle.
Moral support for young families, as the Law of War in Ukraine doesn’t allow men aged between 18 and 60 to leave the country. Their wives with children are leaving. Families are divided. Those who stay – mostly lonely retired seniors or families with sick members – need all kinds of support.
My colleagues Rabbi Julia Gris, Alexander Haydar, Executive Director of the Religious Union for Progressive Jewish Congregations of Ukraine, his wife Alexandra Haydar, and I still provide this kind of support.
Thousands of letters of support and financial help from so many people (with a capital “P” – a Mensch) helped me and the Progressive Movement in Ukraine and proved that Progressive Judaism is more than a noun, it’s a VERB.
Spring is coming along with Purim. Hope comes along with peace. Haman will not survive, because we are too many. We act!
With love from Haifa,
Rabbi Alexander Dukhovny