This is Not the Shoah. And Yet.
My teacher, Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, amv”sh, wrote a book with a disquieting title: Were We Our Brothers’ Keepers? The book traces the response of organized American Jewry to the Shoah as it was unfolding. What is transpiring now to Ukrainian Jewry is hardly comparable to their suffering in the twentieth century, first with the slaughter of an indeterminate number—the JDC estimates 100,000 at a minimum—under the Communists, later dwarfed by the murderous work of the Germans, and then later the spiritual persecution under the Soviets. And yet. We are witness to the most massive, sudden uprooting of tens of thousands of Jews in Europe since the Shoah, fleeing among the millions of people impacted by the Russian invasion a few weeks ago. Unlike the time of our forbears, when access to information was limited, we see and read in real time as these events continue to unfold. Regardless of when and how the invasion ends—may it be soon!—many of our fellow Jews are without homes, and, in many cases, without a steady supply of food. Ki yish’alcha bincha machar leimor - “when your son will ask you on the morrow,” when our children ask us tomorrow “were we our brothers’ keepers?” What will we answer?
With your support, Congregation Or Torah can meaningfully contribute to the Shuls for Ukrainian Jewry Campaign of the OU, RCA, and National Council of Young Israel. The OU is overseeing efforts to coordinate with partners on the ground in Poland, Hungary, and Moldova. Many organizations are assisting those who want to go to Israel, and others are helping provide basic necessities for those who are staying in Europe. The pledge of the campaign organizers: every cent raised by this campaign will be distributed directly to partners on the ground working to take care of Jewish refugees wherever they are now, and to help them get settled wherever they are going.
Thank you to the many members of our shul who already contributed generously to initial fundraising efforts—whether through direct donations, or through the recent Or Torah Cookies For Ukraine project run by our Youth Department. Thanks to a small group of leaders within our shul, Congregation Or Torah will match funds up to $35,000 to encourage all of us to give generously too — every dollar is worth two, and every $1000 you give will become $2000. Please consider making a contribution to this effort. According to current costs, one person can be fed for $15 per weekday, and $20 for each day of shabbat/yomtov.
$110 to feed someone for a week ($15 x 6 +$20)
$140 to feed someone for Pesach ($20 x 4 + $15 x 4)
$440 to feed someone for a month ($110 x 4)
The needs are great. In all likelihood, they will remain so long after the intensity of these weeks abates. Well after the humanitarian crisis drops from the news cycle, these people will still be our brothers and sisters. And we can help them. And we must help them.