Ukrainian Jews Prepare for Pesach Amidst Russian Offensive

As Ukraine braces for a massive Russian offensive, the Jewish community is gearing up to celebrate their third Pesach amidst ongoing conflict.

As Ukraine braces for a massive Russian offensive, the Jewish community there is gearing up to celebrate their third Pesach amidst ongoing conflict, striving to observe it as people of freedom as much as possible. The Western aid to Ukraine is quickly depleting, and President Zelensky has called for urgent help after significant losses and widespread power outages due to severe damage to air defense systems impacting power stations.

In Dnipro, the “Federation of Jewish Communities in Ukraine” (FJCU) completed its extensive preparations for Pesach yesterday. This effort began over a month and a half ago and involved shipping and distributing holiday packages to 45,000 Jewish households across 169 communities. The preparations included packing 45,000 boxes containing handmade and machine-made matzahs, wine, grape juice, Seder plates, cups, Pesach-themed puzzles, holiday and Shabbos candles, a beautifully translated Ukrainian Haggadah, and an informational holiday guide.

Special efforts were made to source materials from Jewish manufacturers in Ukraine, including matzah baked in Kyiv and at the ‘Tiferet Hamatzos’ bakery in Dnipro, which was damaged by a Russian drone last Erev Pesach.

In addition to these shipments, a collaboration between the Federation and Chabad’s emissaries in Ukraine plans to hold large public Seders in 41 major cities, continuing a 33-year tradition expected to serve about 20,000 Jews over the two nights of the holiday.

For the first time, Jewish soldiers on the front lines will also celebrate Pesach, following a special seminar last week for military chaplains led by Rabbi Yaakov Siniakov, appointed by the Federation to oversee Jewish religious life in the military. This seminar aimed to equip them to support the Jewish soldiers’ holiday needs. Like during Purim, when permission was granted for Rabbi Siniakov and volunteers to distribute Purim gift packages and read Megilas Esther at the front, special Pesach packages will also be distributed to Jewish soldiers recently drafted.

Rabbi Meir Stambler, Chabad emissary and chairman of the Federation, reflected on the situation: “In our darkest dreams, we never imagined celebrating another Pesach amidst war, with our brothers in Israel fighting a war of annihilation against those who wish us harm—a true exile within exile. Yet our spirit remains strong, and we are preparing to celebrate this holiday with as much freedom as possible. No war or hardship will conquer our spirit or our desire to live as Jews. Jews in Ukraine and Israel continue to pray that even before this Pesach, we may fulfill our wish from last year: ‘Next year in Yerushalayim!’”

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