Reaching out to Ukrainian friends during crisis

Two years ago, on a visit to Kiev, following a trip to Moscow and St. Petersburg, I had the privilege of spending a weekend with an amazing Jewish family in the center of what I otherwise remember as a somewhat dark, depressing city.

Although they are foreign-born, they are major supporters of Kiev’s Jewish community, regularly hosting grand Shabbat meals in their wonderful apartment, which is housed in an otherwise nondescript, Soviet-style building in the heart of the city.

In recent weeks, as Kiev went up in flames following the violent crackdown of the now-deposed President Viktor Yanukovych, I often wondered how my Kiev hosts were doing. On March 3, as fears built of a Russian invasion of the country’s mainland, I connected via Skype with the father of the family at around 9:30 p.m. Kiev time.

Out of concern for his family’s safety in what he called a “volatile and unpredictable” security atmosphere, my friend asked that I not use his name.

The family’s apartment is only a few hundred meters from Independence Square, the epicenter of the protests that brought to power the current interim government, led by interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

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