War In Ukraine


לְ֭מַעַן אַחַ֣י וְרֵעָ֑י אֲדַבְּרָה־נָּ֖א שָׁל֣וֹם בָּֽךְ 

For the sake of my kin and friends, I pray for your well-being

לְ֭מַעַן בֵּית־יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֵ֑ינוּ אֲבַקְשָׁ֖ה ט֣וֹב לָֽךְ 

for the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I seek your good

Psalm 122. 8-9

Congregation HaTikvah of Kyiv Ukraina spring of 2003. Rabbi Ariel Stone and Rabbi Alexander Dukhovny are at lower right in second row.
When in 2003 I came to Congregation Shir Tikvah of Portland Oregon at the invitation of the fifteen founders who midwifed the community into existence, I came directly from a two-year academic fellowship in Jerusalem. But the beginning of our relationship coincided with another significant date in my life: in 1993, ten years before, I had become the first Rabbi of Congregation HaTikvah of Kyiv, Ukraina.

Ever since, we have maintained a relationship, me and Congregation HaTikvah. At times Shir Tikvah has participated in it. There is a special and unique link between the two congregations through me, and at this terrible time I want to offer you some learning (because we are a learning congregation) regarding what you need to know, and how you might choose to act in response to the horrifying events unfolding so far from us, yet so close.

1. The current spiritual guide of Congregation HaTikvah is Rabbi Alexander Dukhovny. Although he is a descendent of the Rizhiner Rebbe, when I met Shurik he was working as a tour guide. He became my translator during our Shabbat prayers for my first few weeks in Kyiv until my rudimentary Russian (yes, Russian, because that is the international language of the Former Soviet Union) improved enough to be understood – most of the time – by my congregants.

Rabbi Dukhovny sent me this video earlier this week. Please watch it.

2. Tomorrow our local expert on Ukrainian history, Professor Natan Meir, is offering an hour of explanation of the history of the Jewish community of Ukraine and the Ukraine-Russian relationship tomorrow,  Wednesday, March 2 from 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. Learn more here and get the Zoom link: Explaining Ukraine 

3. what can you do to help? In the video, Rabbi Dukhovny mentions an emergency fund for the Jews of Ukraine created by the World Union for Progressive Judaism (which supported my work in Ukraine, along with the JDC). Please consider supporting this emergency fund if you are able: Ukrainian Crisis Fund 

Finally, my companions in study and prayer, please pray with me. With your heart, send healing energy in the direction of all who suffer in Ukraine and everywhere war creates chaos and misery. And pray with me with your hands and feet, joining me in doing what we can to answer hate with kindness, choosing the risk of love over fear.

אָנָּא יְהֹוָה הוֹשִׁיעָה נָּא: אָנָּא יְהֹוָה הוֹשִׁיעָה נָּא: אָנָּא יְהֹוָה הַצְלִיחָה נָּא: אָנָּא יְהֹוָה הַצְלִיחָה נָּא: 

Help, we beseech, save now
we beg, we plead, save now
help us, HaShem, speed the way to peace;
we beseech, may the struggle to live succeed.

(Psalms 118:25) 

May we see the restoration of peace speedily in our day, ken yehi ratzon, may it be so…

Rabbi Ariel

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