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Return us in peace

בתמונה: הרב מוסקוביץ' חוזר לבית הכנסת בחרקוב

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

Many communities in Ukraine are struggling to survive, revive, and resurrect themselves, as illustrated in the following letter I received last night.

"Shalom Sivan, This is Miriam Moskovtiz, Chabad emissary in Kharkov, the second largest city in Ukraine. The war began three months ago and we understood after a week of artillery bombardment that we had to leave. Between missiles and tanks, a broad humanitarian rescue effort was launched. My husband Rabbi Moshe, with the din of shells exploding in the background, opened the ark in our synagogue, kissed the curtain and left with a prayer. On the bus, we recited Tefilat HaDerech (Traveler's Prayer) with the children and wept with hope in our hearts when uttering the words 'return us in peace.'

Since then the Ukrainian emissaries are managing affairs on several fronts. There are some Ukrainian Jews who arrived in Israel, some who are now scattered in countries across Europe, and some who have stayed behind in Ukraine. We are concerned with all of them even while, at the same time, it seems that in the world at large, their plight is of less and less interest.

The fighting continues, but the situation in Kharkov has become quieter as the Russian forces were pushed back from our city. My husband and two of our children left on the long return journey. As the rumor spread that the rabbi was coming back to the city, he began receiving emotional messages from members of the community who were waiting for him. And he finally arrived. At 12 Pushkinskaya Sreet, the address of the synagogue in Kharkov.

Jews were standing in line to give him a long hug, to put on tefillin, to talk. There was so much to talk about. People who have been living for three months in a basement bomb shelter under our synagogue expressed their thanks for being saved. The drivers who endanger themselves when leaving the synagogue to make food and medicine deliveries throughout the city received a personal thank you from the rabbi. And so did the cooks in the synagogue who have been working non-stop since the outbreak of the war. And then the rabbi remembered, approached the ark, opened it and gave a little kiss to the curtain. We have returned. And we have returned in peace. Amen."


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