‘We Will Defend Ukraine’: Jews in Historic City of Uman Aiding Ukrainian Armed Forces Against Russian Invasion
The Jewish community in the historic Ukrainian city of Uman — site of the tomb of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, the revered founder of the Breslover Hasidim — is actively providing medical and logistical assistance to Ukraine’s armed forces in the face of the ongoing Russian military invasion.
“We love Ukraine and we will defend it,” Haim Hazin, a representative of the community, told the Ukrainian news outlet Telegraf on Wednesday, as Russian forces attacked targets around the country in earnest.
The community has already provided practical assistance to the Ukrainian armed forces. “At the beginning of hostilities, we handed over 12 bags with Israeli first aid kits to the army,” Hazin said, while partner organizations in Israel “also sent specialists who conducted a tactical medicine course, sharing Israeli technologies on how to stop a wound from bleeding.”
On Wednesday, Hazin announced that the community was donating an ambulance that would be deployed with Ukrainian troops in the Donbass region. “It’s equipped with modern Israeli medical equipment and bags with Israeli medicines,” he said. “We donate all this in full for first aid.”
Hazin added that Jews in Uman, which is located in central Ukraine, were “determined to help in any way we can.”
He continued: “It hurts us, we fear for Ukraine, this is sacred land for us here in Uman, where Rabbi Nachman is buried.”
Uman was once home to a thriving Jewish community that was decimated during the Nazi Holocaust. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, several Orthodox families have moved to the city, mainly concentrated around the Rabbi’s tomb, which attracts thousands of worshipers from Israel, the US and other countries during Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.
In Israel, meanwhile, Jewish immigrants from Ukraine expressed support for the country of their birth on social media after an impassioned message from a Ukrainian citizen to the Israeli people went viral.
A resident of the Podil neighborhood in the capital Kyiv, Marynich said that a section of the Jewish community lived nearby. “Never, never have we had any conflicts or misunderstandings,” he wrote. “Every morning we greet the Jewish children with a smile as they board their school buses.” Tuesday, however, “was a hard day, no one in town had a smile or a greeting.” He ended his message pledging to “defend ourselves, defend our Kyiv, defend Podil, and the church, and the synagogue.”
Several Israeli readers reacted warmly to Marynich’s plea. “Israel is for an independent and free Ukraine! Israel and the entire civilized world are for you!” wrote reader Alexander Linsky, while Berta Pinhasov declared, “Hold on, Israel is with you!”
Another reader, Irina Tsybulya, said she would visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem and place a note in its cracks praying for Ukraine’s welfare.
“God, take care of Ukraine,” she wrote.