Ahead of the 120th anniversary of the Rebbe‘s birth on 11 Nissan, the Wall Street Journal carried an article about the Rebbe, the history of the Jews of Ukraine and the life-saving work of Chabad-Lubavitch of Ukraine.
Ahead of the 120th anniversary of the Rebbe‘s birth on 11 Nissan, the Friday edition of the Wall Street Journal carried an article about the Rebbe, the history of the Jews of Ukraine and the life-saving work of Chabad-Lubavitch of Ukraine. Titled “Chabad’s Ukraine Mission” and written by Dovid Margolin, senior editor at Chabad.org, the article notes that the Rebbe was born in Nikolayev (Mykolayiv in Ukrainian) on April 18, 1902, where the Rebbe’s grandfathers were the rabbonim.
“During a 1905 pogrom, [Rebbetzin Chana] hid in a cellar with other women, whose children’s terrified screams risked attracting the anti-Semitic marauders outside. Years later, she would recall her 3-year-old son soothing the other children.”
Margolin writes about the Rebbe’s father’s mesirus nefesh to keep yiddishkeit alive in the Soviet Union, including his 1939 arrest by the NKVD in Yekaterinoslav, today known as Dnipro.
The Rebbe later wrote that “those who withstood and survived the horrific torrent of intimidation” had something in common: “They had internalized Hasidic teachings, and the enthusiasm and self-sacrifice that they evoke, through proper education.”
In 1990 the Rebbe sent the first shluchim to Soviet Ukraine, couples who built on decades of Chabad’s underground work to create a thriving Jewish infrastructure. Today, there are 192 husband-and-wife teams serving 32 cities throughout Ukraine. Not only were Jews able to once again observe yiddishkeit, but the whole Ukraine began to change. During what became a golden era for the Jews of Ukraine, both Nikolayev and Dnipro renamed streets in honor of the Rebbe.
Today, Chabad is “distributing food and medications and turning synagogue basements into bomb shelters. Dnipro’s 20-story Chabad center has become a frenetic base of humanitarian aid for refugees, both Jewish and not, as they are helped out of the country. Chabads of battle-scarred places like Mariupol and Sumy continue to evacuate people to safety. The organization has helped more than 35,000 people escape and will continue doing so as long as there are people in need.”
Margolin writes about how Rabbi Avraham Wolff, the chief rabbi and head shliach of Odessa, sent 120 children from his Mishpacha orphanage to Berlin, then brought a second group, before returning to Odessa alone, where he’s remained since before Purim.
“The Rebbe taught that true education should charge us with a sense of responsibility to our fellow man and to God. It is no accident that today these values are being put into action by the Jewish communities he revived and inspired. Nor that this great modern Jewish sage was born 120 years ago in Ukraine—a country that, in working to overcome its past, has emerged as an example of moral courage and fortitude for the world.”
You can read the whole story here.