Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



Cities of Refuge

Aharon Granot

As Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian nationalists continue to fight on Ukraine’s eastern border, masses of refugees have fled their war-torn, bombed-out towns — including thousands of Jews whose communities no longer exist. Aharon Granot traveled to Mariupol and Dnipropetrovsk to hear how these displaced Jews are trying to forge ahead.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

It’s easy to understand whyVladimirPutinhas sent his sights on Mariupol, an important port city on the Sea of Azov in southeastern Ukraine and capital city of the Donetsk province. Putin has already effectively conquered Crimea to the south, and a takeover of this Russian-speaking city of 500,000 disciplined industrial workers will greatly enhance his bid at becoming ruler of an Eastern European empire he so desires to establish.Although a cease-fire between the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian rebels who are seeking to separate from Ukraine was instituted on September 5, skirmishes and sniper activity continue to plague the city, illustrating the fragile nature of the cold truce.In the midst of all this turmoil, the Jewish community of Mariupol is struggling to survive. Life isn’t easy for Rabbi MenachemMendelCohen, the city’s Chabad shaliach and its official rav. The Russian border is less than 30 miles from his home, and the Russian-backed separatist militia has stationed itself just ten miles away. For RabbiCohen, the tension-level yardstick is the annual public Chanukah menorah lighting, arranged every year with official permits andMayorYuriKhotlubey’s blessing. This year, as a security precaution, no public lighting took place.A visitor to the city — with its high-rise apartments, well-maintained streets, and strong work ethic — might be lulled into a false sense of security. But the illusion would soon dissolve upon reaching the city’s outskirts, where it looks like every block has sustained damage from Russian bombs. Even City Hall was burned down this past May;MayorKhotlubeyhad to scatter the municipal departments around the city, while the town clung to its Ukrainian sovereignty.The ensuing political vacuum created a hotbed of opportunity for lawbreakers. Banks were robbed, stores were looted, and a general atmosphere of despair overtook the city’s residents, who had hoped for a calm summer after the political upheavals of last winter. For the Jews, it meant navigating militia checkpoints on the streets leading to the shul, and although the regular morning minyan (along with an occasional Minchah and Maariv) continued to take place, going to shul meant risking one’s life.

To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
Not a Newspaper
Shoshana Friedman A deeper difference between newspapers and magazines
Services in Shards
Rabbi Moshe Grylak “Such a painful, malicious lie!”
The Pittsburgh Protests: All Politics All the Time
Yonoson Rosenblum The old rule — “no enemies on the left” — still applies
Danger: School Crossing
Eytan Kobre The hypocrisy of YAFFED’s assertion is breathtaking
Real Laughter and Real Tears
Rabbi Avrohom Neuberger The two sides of a life lived with emunah
Work/Life Solutions with Eli Langer
Moe Mernick I was proud to be “that guy with the yarmulke”
Is Ktchong! a Mitzvah? When Prayer and Charity Collide
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman These cannot both be done effectively at the same time
An Honest Shidduch
Jacob L. Freedman “Baruch Hashem I’m cured, and this will be my secret”
A Blessing in Disguise
Riki Goldstein “I never thought the song would catch on as it has”
Ishay and Motti Strike a Common Chord
Riki Goldstein Bringing together two worlds of Jewish music
What’s your favorite Motzaei Shabbos niggun?
Riki Goldstein From the holy and separate back to the mundane
Rightfully Mine
Faigy Peritzman Don’t regret the job you didn’t land; it was never yours
Growing Greener Grass
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Nurture your blessings and watch them blossom
My Way or the High Way
Rebbetzin Debbie Greenblatt We know what we want — but do we know what He wants?