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February 27, 2022 3:56 pm
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Village Founded by Ukrainian Chief Rabbi Shelters 250 Jewish Families From Nearby Fighting

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

An interior view shows a kindergarten, which according to Ukraine’s military officials was damaged by shelling, in Stanytsia Luhanska in the Luhansk region, Ukraine, in this handout picture released February 17, 2022. Press Service of the Joint Forces Operation/Handout via REUTERS

A village founded by the chief rabbi of Ukraine has become a refuge for some 250 Jewish families fleeing the ongoing Russian invasion, but faces threats amid continued fighting, Israeli news site Walla reported Sunday.

The village was founded by Chief Rabbi Moshe Reuven Azman and named “Anatevka” after the fictional shtetl from the works of Sholem Aleichem, immortalized in the classic film “Fiddler on the Roof.” It is a roughly 40 minutes drive from the capital Kyiv, which has sustained continued Russian attacks.

Azman founded the village as a refuge for Jews fleeing separatist regions in eastern Ukraine. It contains a school, community center, and Judaica manufacturing facilities. Since the Russian invasion began on Thursday, it has become home to hundreds of Jews escaping the combat zone, particularly Kyiv, and offered transportation to the border for refugees that want to cross into neighboring countries.

Rabbi Shmuel Azman, the founder’s son and a resident of the village, told Walla that Anatevka “has become a place of pilgrimage, and they are trying to send out buses to the border. Right now, we are being shelled and there is nowhere to escape to.”

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“Every hour more Jews arrive here, we need more food to feed the many hundreds,” he said. “Help us in this difficult hour.”

“We heard explosions all the time,” Rabbi Shmuel said, “People are panicking.”

He said that Saturday was particularly difficult, with a significant amount of shelling. “There were a lot of loud explosions, we put cellophane tape on the windows so they won’t shatter.”

“We need your help urgently,” the rabbi said. “The situation here is deteriorating. … Lend us a hand in this difficult hour, compassionate Jews. I beg you.”

A donation page shared by Walla can be found here.

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