Last week the Portuguese Jewish community sent emergency help to its Ukrainian brothers who were facing the danger of war in their country.That danger was confirmed yesterday when the Russian military invaded Ukraine on three fronts.
The emergency help (in which the entire international Jewish community was involved) consisted of the purchase of medical gear, protective equipment, and basic necessities such as clothes and sleeping bags, as well as money to help stock emergency shelters with several tons of cereal, buckwheat, sugar, rice, flour and other non-perishable staples. These donations are able to provide security, shelter, and food for everyone in need during the dangerous time, and also help defray the costs of additional security personnel arriving from Israel to help protect the Jewish Community.
Rabbi Avraham Wolff, Chief Rabbi of Odessa and Southern Ukraine, is a great friend and partner of the Portuguese Jewish community. In the last five years, the Jewish Community of Oporto and Chabad Lubavitch Movement have been providing products for Shabbat meals to synagogues in Odessa and elsewhere that distribute them to needy families. Shabbat is a festive day when Jews exercise their freedom from the regular labours of everyday life. Traditionally, three festive meals are eaten.
Headed by Rabbi Avraham Wolff, the “Shabbat Meals” in Odessa helped a lot of Jews, worked so well and very effectively. Result of this project is that more people got closer to the community and started to take part in Seudot Shabbat, gathering together, hearing the Torah lesson, and saying lechaim. Many low-income families were enjoying kosher meat, fish, chicken and challah with wine at their homes.
In the meantime, the Jewish Agency for Israel and Keren Yedidut have joined together to open an emergency center for Ukrainian Jews intended to provide guidance and information regarding the Aliyah (immigration) process to Israel. The emergency center operates information lines in Hebrew, English, Ukrainian, and Russian and is intended for applicants from members of the Jewish community in Ukraine and their relatives in Israel.
Russia’s Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar is urging Jews across the world to dedicate this Shabbat to prayers for peace and calm.