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‘There were loud explosions, we hid in the basement’

The Jewish communities in Ukraine will not quickly forget Sukkot 2022.

  • While the Russians upped their offensive against the country, Ukraine’s Jews celebrated their ancient religious holiday.
  • This holiday saw the largest challenge since the Jewish holiday season began.

“On the day before the holiday there were loud explosions,” recounts the rabbi of Kharkiv and Chabad emissary Rabbi Moshe Moskowitz,

  • “On the morning of the holiday there were more shellings. The electricity went out. During the second night of the holiday, the electricity came back thanks to the generator which we received ahead of time from the Chabad Hatzalah headquarters in the country. Despite the situation, we managed to hold holiday prayers and meals with a large crowd in attendance. During the lulls in the attacks, the Jews got to make the blessing on the four species in the city’s streets. It’s a big miracle that no one was hurt. We have to thank and praise G-d.”

The residents of Mykolaiv also heard the explosions.

“There were a lot of heavy shellings during the holiday,” says the rabbi and Chabad emissary to the city Rabbi Sholom Gottlieb,

“We did everything so it won’t harm the joyousness of the holiday. Hundreds of Jews came to make the blessing on the four species and to attend the holiday meals. We strengthened the congregation through holiday sermons and we spoke about how this year is the year of the ‘Hakhel’ ceremony and how G-d is certainly watching over us.”

  • The Jews of the capital city, Kyiv, had a difficult holiday. “It wasn’t easy at all,” reports one of the rabbis in the city, “There were loud explosions. We all escapes to the bomb shelter and waited until things would calm down. We currently are without electricity. There are planned power outages.”

In Kryvyi Rih, where President Zelensky was born, the electric grid was extremely damaged.

“The situation didn’t ruin the joyfulness of the holiday,” says the city’s rabbi and Chabad emissary Rabbi Liron Edry,

“Many Jews came to rejoice and celebrate while following the guidelines, of course.”

In the city of Zaporizhzhia, the houses of the local Jews shook non-stop.

  • “There were unusual explosions here, even relative to what we’ve seen in the war,” says the city’s rabbi Rabbi Nachum Arntroy,
  • “There was a shelling 500 meters away from us. Buildings fell. We spent the holiday in the basement, and anyone who was there was saved. Unfortunately, tens were killed in the bombings. On the morning of the holiday, a missile hit the central power station in the city. We were without power for hours.”

Rabbi Arntroy tried to uplift his congregation which sat in the synagogue’s basement. “People wanted to celebrate on the holiday and we wanted to do everything to make them happy.”

The Chabad Hatzalah Ukraine headquarters, which is located in Israel, kept track of the events from afar.

  • “We can’t describe the fact that despite the tough situation and the fear, the rabbis and emissaries continued to lead their congregations,” said a source in the headquarters.

Source: Arutz Sheva