It’s been a difficult week listening to the news. Russia has invaded Ukraine, and we’re watching warfare escalate in a matter of hours. Our hearts are always with the innocent victims of any war. This war is an assault on our democratic beliefs, but we also have another layer that speaks to us.
Our Sages have taught us that to promote the ways of peace, we are to help those in need, whether they are Jewish or not.
There is a Jewish community in Ukraine, and most of them are survivors of the Shoah. A few of the rabbis in Odessa have shared that they are trying to comfort 80-year-old congregants who are reliving the memories of the war they remember from their youth. The memories that are uniquely theirs.
There is a Jewish layer that we will only hear internally – the awakening fears.
It is in these moments that we feel the connection of Jewish peoplehood. The media can give us the maps, the strategies, and the responses, but the rabbis will tell us of the conversations, the weakening hearts.
As the stakes are so high internationally, we listen carefully, in the hope that the violence stops. We must also quickly learn of the Jewish infrastructures that exist to help our fellow Jews. We can strengthen those avenues of support, find ways to help them reach out.
Ukraine is not a neighbour of Canada, but Jewish communities are always connected, and we always listen for a voice reaching out.
This week’s Torah reading, parshat Vayakhel, begins with the words “and Moses gathered the people together”. Once we stand together at Sinai, we stand together everywhere.