25/26 February 2022, 24/25 Adar 5782

This is grim day for Ukraine and for the whole of Europe.

Last week Rabbi Julia Gris joined us virtually from Odessa to speak of the Progressive community she has nurtured there. Today she is in the west in Lviv worried for her and her daughter Izolde’s safety. Indeed Liberal Judaism is trying hard to extend an invitation to them here by communicating with the British Embassy in the Ukraine.

Two other rabbis we know well are there trapped in Ukraine; Rabbi Alex Duchovny and Rabbi Tanya Sakhnovich who was visiting her son. They matter no more than all Ukrainian citizens thrown into an unprovoked war, but our intimacy with and knowledge of them makes this situation all the more awful.

People are already trying to cross into neighbouring Poland and other countries such as Slovakia.

Money and support are small gestures right now but for those feeling powerless it is something to do:

We are praying and watching with vigilance each hour of news from Kyiv and beyond.

There is something about the watching about the concern about the fear we are seeing played out on our news channels. The Torah twice refers to the night of the Seder as leil shimurim, a night that is guarded: It is a night that is guarded by God to take them (Israel) out of Egypt, this night remains to God a night that is guarded throughout the generations (Exodus, 12:42).

I think of that watching, of that guarding of that speaking out now.

I look forward to seeing you this Shabbat when we can be together.