Next year in a free Kyiv and safe Odessa, says refugee host rabbi

Jonathan Romain launched the “Ukrainetransport” immediately after Russia’s invasion


The rabbi behind a refugee-hosting scheme inspired by the Kindertransport has said that he may end this year’s Seder with the words: “Next year in a free Kyiv and safe Odessa.”

Maidenhead Synagogue’s Rabbi Jonathan Romain, who launched the “Ukrainetransport” immediately following Russia’s invasion, added that at his Passover meal he would be praising Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as the “modern Moses”.

It comes as a Jewish family using the government’s refugee scheme told the JC they had welcomed in a Ukrainian who is seeking to join the NHS as a trauma psychologist. GP Michael Ingram and his wife Anne are hosting Antonina, who arrived in the UK three days ago, at their home in Radlett, Hertfordshire. Antonina, 33, who is also a doctor and specialises in psychology, worked with child sufferers of PTSD in Ukraine.

More than 600 families have volunteered to host refugees through the project run by Rabbi Romain, whose mother escaped Nazi Germany on the Kindertransport.

He has now linked up with UK charity Refugees At Home after the extraordinary scale of the response to his announcement of the scheme.

The Maidenhead rabbi says that he has received offers from households across the UK, including Cardiff, Belfast and Aberdeen.

The volunteers come from a range of communities, with Jews accounting for more than a fifth of potential hosts.

Rabbi Romain said “We are now moving on to the next phase of providing support for the hosts and their new guests, be it providing lifts, teaching English, taking on outings, giving legal advice or finding employment.

“Given this backdrop, at our Seder, we will be lauding the Jewish leader Zelensky as a modern Moses saying ‘Let My People Go’ to the modern Pharoah, Putin, while we encourage the government to plague him with as many sanctions as possible until he relents. We might even end by exclaiming ‘Next year in a free Kyiv and safe Odessa’.”

Dr Ingram, 64, and his wife Anne, 60, who have three grown-up children and six grandchildren, said they had “no hesitation” in opening their door to refugee Antonina when they heard of the tide of Ukrainians fleeing their country.

For more information, go to or send an email to Rabbi Romain at

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