The current Ukrainian crisis has led thousands of refugees to settle in the western city of Khmelnytskyi, leading to a sharp increase in the city’s Jewish population and a high demand for a local and accessible Mikvah to serve the growing community.
“Ever since the crisis broke out,” says Rabbi Yosef Taitelboim “hundreds of Jewish families and individuals have strengthened their connection to the community and are seeking a sense of belonging and a warm hand to assist them during such troubling times.”
“However,” he adds “we didn’t expect the overflow of new refugee families settling in Khmelnytskyi to affect our community so strongly. We are thankful for every person we can assist, and have become one big loving family.”
Together with volunteers from the community, Rabbi Yosef and his wife have distributed more than 45 tons of humanitarian aid to community members and refugees over the last five months. This is in addition to a wide range of ongoing activities, and a unique children’s development center serving more than 30 children per year.
Currently, they are also concluding a special summer camp – despite the tension and havoc – attended by over 35 Jewish campers.
Adjacent to the children’s center, the community is now building a new state-of-the-art women’s Mikvah. Due to the situation and increase in the Jewish population, the Mikvah has become even more critical, since the closest active ritual bath is located a three-hour drive away, which at present is an especially scary journey.
The new Mikvah building – partially supported by the Rohr family, the Federation of Jewish Communities (FJC), and additional foundations – will also include an activity hall and a kosher food and Judaica store.