Russian missile hits Ukrainian synagogue, Chief Rabbi condemns attack

After shelling hit a synagogue in Huliaipole, the congregation struggles to rebuild.

Rabbi Nachum Ehrentreu (photo credit: RABBI NACHUM EHRENTREU)
Rabbi Nachum Ehrentreu

A chief rabbi of Ukraine condemned a Russian missile damaging a synagogue in Huliaipole on Tuesday.

"In a normative world it is accepted that holy places are off limits, the Russians also broke this convention," said Rabbi Moshe Azman. "I expect world leaders to strongly condemn the criminal act."

Former minister, MK Zeev Elkin tweeted that "a Russian missile hit an ancient Synagogue in Ukraine in the area where my late great-grandfather was born, grew up, and was murdered, during the civil war."

He added that he is named for this great-grandfather.

Confronting the attack

"How sad and disgusting," he said of the damage done by Russia to this synagogue. "The world should condemn damage to holy sites and houses of worship, even when it comes to war," Elkin wrote. Elkin made aliyah from Ukraine and while he was a member of the Likud party, would accompany Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin as a confidant and translator.

 Huliaipole Jewish cemetery last year (credit: RABBI NACHUM EHRENTREU) Huliaipole Jewish cemetery last year (credit: RABBI NACHUM EHRENTREU)

"I'm in touch with all Jewish communities in our area and there aren't many Jews that live in Huliaipole,"  Rabbi Nachum Ehrentreu, rabbi and Chabad emissary of the Jewish Community of Zaporozhye, told The Jerusalem Post. "I visited there before the war and we fixed up the Jewish graveyard that indicates that there was once a large Jewish community in the city. I also visited the synagogue, there is a museum there nowadays," the rabbi said.

He added that it seems that it wasn't a missile that hit the synagogue, but rather shrapnel from a missile, "otherwise the building would be totally destroyed," and according to Ehrentreu, the building was harmed but not ruined.

"As Chabad emissaries, we work with Jews in the entire area, about 10,000 Jews before the war," Ehrentreu said. He and his wife have been living in Ukraine for 27 years. "With the help of people such as Shlomi Peles from the Jewish Relief Network Union (JRNU), we have been able to offer humanitarian assistance, to the approximately 2,000 Jews left here with medicine, food, and spiritual assistance." 

He added that "our synagogue has become the main Jewish center for any information or physical assistance that Jews may need." He explained that thanks to JRNU and other organizations such as the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) they have been able to attach a generator to the synagogue, "some people just come to the synagogue in order to charge their phones when there is a power shortage." 
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