Several months after the outbreak of the Russian invasion in Ukraine, a special conference took place in New York regarding the welfare of Jews in Ukraine at which a decision was made for Rabbanim and Chabad shlichim to gradually return to their communities despite the ongoing war.
The meeting was hosted by HaRav Moshe Kotlarsky, director of the International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries and Vice-Chairman of Merkos L’lnyonei Chinuch, and attended by businessman and philanthropist George Rohr, a major donor for kehillos and mosdos in Ukraine for the past 32 years, and prominent Ukraine Rabbanim including the Rav of Dneiper, Rav Shmuel Kamintesky, Rav of Odesasa, Rav Avraham Wolf, Rav of Kharkiv, Rav Moshe Moskowitz, Rav of western Ukraine, Rav Shlomo Wilhem of Zhytomyr, and others.
There are currently about 155 Rabbanim and Chabad shlichim serving in about 30 different communities in Ukrainian cities. Some of the communities suffered severe damage since the war began, especially the devastated city of Mariupol. Other cities still have many Jews living there, including men of enlistment age who were banned from leaving Ukraine and the elderly and handicapped.
Some of the Rabbanim, such as Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky, stayed in Ukraine throughout the war and other Rabbanim left Ukraine and led their communities from afar. The gradual return of the Rabbanim will enable them to preserve the remaining communities and redevelop community institutions.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)