Against All Odds: Baby Boy Receives Brit Milah in Ukraine

Amid the crisis and destruction in Kharkiv, Ukraine, a new baby boy was given a brit milah with the help of the Chief Rabbi Moshe Moskovitz and the Mohel and Chief Rabbi of Mariupol, Mendel Cohen.

Masha had only one request from Rabbi Moshe Moskovitz last month in the Kharkiv synagogue. She was due to have a baby boy in a few weeks and wanted to be sure that no matter what her newborn son would have a brit milah at 8 days old. Last week Masha gave birth to her son and made sure to call the synagogue to ensure her request would be fulfilled.

A few months ago that would have been easy to arrange but with Kharkiv in the midst of the current crisis and no mohel in Ukraine, Rabbi Moskovitz had to step up to the challenge.

Rabbi Moskovitz’s first step was finding a mohel who would be ready to travel thousands of kilometers into Ukraine! How amazing that the Rabbi of  Mariupol, Rabbi Mendel Cohen, also a mohel, was brave enough to take up this unique mitzvah despite the dangers and distance.

Rabbi Moskovitz then had to arrange the logistics and get him on a flight from Israel to Moldova. Rabbi Cohen had to be driven for over 20 hours in a van crossing the border through the whole of Ukraine to Kharkiv.

News spread fast that a special occasion and ceremony would be taking place in the synagogue on Thursday morning. Masha, who was once a student in FJC’s ‘Or Avner’ Jewish school and whose older son also studied in school and was a camper in Camp Gan Israel in Kharkiv, was very emotional as she walked up the stairs to the synagogue.

She understood the importance of bringing her son to do his brit milah at the right time and was deeply grateful to Rabbi Moskovitz, the Kharkiv community, and Rabbi Mendel Cohen for traveling thousands of kilometers to make her dream come true.

The crowd stood in awe, ignoring the horrific background sounds. The small cry of the baby was followed by tears by all those watching the moment. “And he should be called in Israel, Moshe.” In the middle of the war with true self-sacrifice, a young baby boy becomes part of the Jewish community continuing the chain from Avraham Avinu.

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