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March 4, 2014 5:01 pm

Ukrainian Yeshiva Students Receive Draft Notices

avatar by Gidon Ben-zvi

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Kiev's Great Choral Synagogue. Photo: Wikipedia.

Students from several of Kiev’s yeshiva schools received draft notices as part of the country’s military assemblage in response to Russia’s infiltration of the Crimean Peninsula, Israeli daily Ma’ariv reported on Tuesday.

Religious students studying at the Brodsky Synagogue Chabad were ordered by the Ukrainian army to present themselves for military duty, one of Ukraine’s Chief Rabbis, Moshe Reuven Asman, said.

Those learning at the Orech Chaim Yeshiva, located in Kiev’s neighborhood of Podil, have likewise received draft orders in recent days, Ma’ariv reported.

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“[Students] had to go to the recruiting office,” said Hillel Cohen, a student at the Podil Yeshiva. “However, no general mobilization has yet been reported… If there is a war they will have to go.”

As a result of the draft notices, Cohen said many community members are talking about the possibility of leaving Ukraine. He explained, “Some people are thinking about heading to Russia, but if the airport is closed how will they get there?”

Meir Pawlowski, a student from another yeshiva whose attendees have been called for duty by the Ukrainian armed forces, noted that several of his friends served in the country’s military before becoming religiously observant. As a result, these particular yeshiva students are more likely to be drafted, Ma’ariv said.

Pawlowski himself enlisted in 2002 and served for two years in Ukraine’s army, after which he became an openly religious Jew. Based on his military experience, Pawlowski asserted, “There is no possible way to continue being religious while serving in the Ukrainian army.”

Pawlowski sees parallels between the current situation he and his fellow Jews are experiencing in Ukraine, and the years leading up to the Holocaust. He noted, “It’s like World War II. Jews up until the last minute debated over whether to leave or not.” As such, he has no intention of being drafted.

“If they call me up, I will go to Israel,” he said.

Russia recently tightened its military grip on Ukraine’s Crimea region after a popular revolution saw pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych ousted and a new pro-Western government formed.

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  • Darek

    “Either serve Israel or the Ukraine.”
    Military service is slavery. Politicians exploit the people like this to keep their jobs.
    And some people still treat military service as a moral obligation. An obligation that the sons of the political and economic elite will never fulfill, certainly not near the frontlines.
    Is the Ukrainian government worth dying for? It’s corrupt and serves its oligarch lobby and foreign agents, rather than the people.

  • Jeffrey Justin

    Go to Israel?…. so they dont have to serve in the IDF? You Live in Ukraine ,Support the country you live in.They need every able bodied person.If you do decide to go to Israel ,you schould inlist in the IDF immediatly! But if you are Ukrainian, your responsibility is to protect your Home .If youare looking at the history of Ukraines antisemitism ,look to all countrys for thier support of the Nazi’s and Russians . according to this News source there is already Ati-Semitic graffitee being sprayed on Shuls in Crimea .Isnt that reason enough?

  • svetistephen

    The draft-dodging of these pious sanctimonious welfare cheats and social parasites is a disgrace everywhere it happens, especially in Israel which needs every able-bodied young man and woman to serve their country. It is also right that as Ukrainian citizens they uphold their obligations to their country, especially when it is endangered. The Yeshiva boys are a shonda, disgracing the good name of religious Jews EVERYWHERE.

  • Yale

    I am writing a few days after the article, so this reflects some developments after it was written.

    Things are moving rather quickly in Ukraine, especially in Crimea. If a war breaks out, it will happen before anyone without previous military experience could be trained for modern warfare. Thus, those students who have not been in the military are unlikely to be of much use in the Ukrainian military and are unlikely to find themselves having to fight.

    Students who are just out of the military would be far more useful, so they should move NOW, before they get a call-up notice: Do they really think the authorities will let them leave AFTER they have been called up?
    And trying to leave after they have been called up will simply demonstrate to the authorities, and the Ukrainian people, that the Jews aren’t loyal, and this will have serious consequences for all Jews.

  • Vivienne Leijonhufvud (goldie)

    Either serve Israel or the Ukraine. If your young healthy and strong serve your country. There are enough old men out there to serve Ha’Shem through Torah who cannot serve their nation.

  • Harold Tobin

    Let’s see what happens if they protested like they did in Israel. They should proud Jews and go to Israel and play a part in that country’s growth,including IDF sevice

  • ScottAdler

    He’s living in Ukraine, he must obey the law of Ukraine. That is what Jews are supposed to do.

  • A.Franklin

    Nothing new: remember the Cantonists.

  • Batyah

    WELL WORTH REPEATING — WORTH REPEATING AGAIN —

    I am so grateful that the ISRAELI Jewish mentality is far superior and more instinctual than it appears to be for a Jew in “his” mother Russia -Ukraine!

    Ha’Shem sent us the message back then: “Ha’lech la’cha!!”

  • Dov

    Go to Israel? What a joke, he will be drafted their too…

  • Essie HaKohane

    So let me understand this, the Yeshiva students are going to Israel to evade the Ukrainian draft. In Israel, they refuse to defend their Jewish State.

    Why do they get with this double standard? Because, unfortunately, they can!

    Maybe they should organize a mass demonstration in Kiev to protest the draft.

  • H.S.Cohen

    Yeshiva students in Israel should kiss the ground and be happy to serve in THEIR OWN Country!

  • Steven

    I’m a proud son of a holocaust survivor. My father, was born in Sosnowice, Poland. He survived 5 concentration camps, and settled in Toronto,Canada. My father, was also called up to the army at the age of 12. He was the only one to survive the holocaust. His parents, brother, and lots of uncles and aunts, all perished. If you have a chance to leave, for Israel, do it now. Don’t wait, or it will be too late. Israel is waiting proudly for you. Steven.

    • Dov

      My mother was also born in Sosnovitz. Can you please contact me personally as I would like to talk to you. my email is ro@jewishprisoner.com

  • Jerry Hecht

    This is your country, you chose it and it is now your duty to defend it.

    • Richard Rosenblatt

      @Jerry Hecht

      “This is your country, you chose it and it is now your duty to defend it.”

      I don’t know if they “chose” to live in Ukraine; most young people do not have such a choice. But,the Jewish community there, having made a life (e.g. establishing Yeshivas) is obligated to defend the country.

  • Judy Silver-Shapiro

    Weren’t many of the NAZI Concentration Camp guards from the Ukraine.
    The Ukranians were and are still ANTI SEMITES?

    • svetistephen

      Yes, it’s true that there were Ukrainian guards at many concentration camps and anti-Semitism has been a facet of Ukrainian culture over centuries. Of course the same is true of Russia, Belarus, Rumania, Hungary, Slovakia, etc. But you paint with too broad a brush. Just as many supporter the Nazis, millions more fought and died stopping Hitler, as was the case of the Russians. And there is a new generation there, just as in Germany. Give them a chance. There are many Jews active in the movement for greater freedom in Ukraine. If it prevails, that’s good for Jews and every other Ukrainian.

  • Simone Miller

    I had a friend from Poland and after the war when he came home his family was gone and their home was given to a Ukrainian who tried to kill him. The Ukrainians have been fed anti- Semitic nonsense by the church for generations. I really do not know why any Jews stayed there when they could leave after WW-ll. Run before it is too late.

  • Batyah

    Yes, yes, yes…it’s Batyah again. Good for Pawlowski…he sees the parallels — a blind man sees these parallels. Tell me, please…has the Ukraine been so terrific for Jews post WWII?? And, if the Uki draft calls him up…only then he would go to Israel…ah…I said it (not just me, of course) last week’s comment on an Algemeiner article when the Chief Rabbi of Kiev tells the Jews to run and hide…HE SHOULD HAVE SAID ENLIST IN THE ISRAELI IDF! Now we HAVE a homeland! What in the name of Heaven is a Jew doing in anti-semitic Ukraine? We Jews fled from there…You know, I am so grateful that the ISRAELI Jewish mentality is far superior and more instinctual than it appears to be for a Jew in “his” mother Russia -Ukraine! How are we to make sense of this? How are we to grieve for them? Such was rabbinic leadership back then, too. Ha’Shem sent us the message back then: “Ha’lech la’cha!!”

  • Jerry Frankeny

    Why is yeshiva protest in israel for students to join IDF not published?

  • Dale K.

    My thinking is that the Jews of the Ukraine should have left many years ago. Perhaps this is the push that becomes the shove. Hoping they don’t argue themselves into staying because of fear of the unknown should they leave.

  • R

    No one should wait to see if they are called up before going to Israel.

    IF THEY CAN GET OUT OF THEIR COUNTRY AND THE AIRPORTS ARE OPEN, WHAT THE HELL ARE THE WAITING FOR? Get out/get out/ don’t wait another moment!

    G-E-T O-U-T N-O-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    get out now!! G E T O U T NOW. G*E*T* O*U*T* N*O*W*W*W*W*W*W*W*W*W*W*W*W

  • Michael Anisfeld

    Can I now assume, like their Israeli compatriots, that the Ukrainian yeshiva students will have mass protests blocking Kiev’s main streets? Protesting to the Ukrainian authorities that as yeshiva students they should be exempted from the draft.

  • Andrea

    Why oh why would a Jew stay in Ukraine or Russia? GO to Israel, where they want you! It’s a lot safer for a Jew in Israel than almost anyplace else on Earth.

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