Jewish Ukrainians will stand united with their fellow citizens in taking up arms against a Russian invasion, a community leader has told the JC.
In an exclusive interview in Kiev, Rabbi Meir Stambler called for the world to “step up for Ukraine” in the face of Putin’s threat.
Asked if members of the Jewish community will fight if war breaks out, the chairman of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Ukraine said: “Jews are very, very involved in everything in Ukraine, in the government, business, the army as well.”
More than 100,000 Russian troops have been deployed on the border, amid fears a major conflict could break out in weeks.
Rabbi Stambler warned of possible war: “It’s a threat, it’s a threat to democracy, it’s a threat to everyone. War is not good for any side.
"We pray, we try and do whatever we can to keep calm, in every way we can.
"This is the time for all people to try and back Ukraine. The world has to step up for Ukraine because it’s not just Ukraine, it’s the world.”
Raised in the US, Rabbi Stambler came to Ukraine decades ago aged 19 as an emissary of the Lubavitch movement and has never left.
He said Jews’ “long relationship” with Ukraine had been difficult, but had improved in recent years.
“Jews are here, we have very good years with our Ukrainian neighbours, we are part of the population.
“But the ground is soaked with blood here, Jewish blood. We feel part of the population so it’s very difficult. But it’s important because you can’t build anything without learning your history.”
Recalling how Russia aggression had united the country in 2014, he said: “It’s Putin that did it, after they took the Crimea and started the war, people got very, very connected to their country. It already happened, we’re at war for eight years.”