Last night, at 2:45 am, two unknown youngsters approached the Grand Synagogue and JCC of Kherson, Ukraine, and attempted to set it on fire with a couple of Molotov cocktails. These immediately ignited, but were quickly extinguished without harming the interior of the building.
The community’s Rabbi Yosef Wolff informed the local police and security services who opened an investigation in an attempt to arrest the offenders. The entire event was caught on tape by the security cameras. “I see this as a very rare and unexpected event. I have served as Rabbi of this city for over two decades and have not experienced anything of this sort,” said Rabbi Wolff.
For the last few weeks, similar to dozens of other synagogues and Jewish community centers across Ukraine, the building has been closed for prayers and only operates as an emergency center, caring for the community’s needy and elderly members, especially before Passover. Most of the ongoing activities have moved online.
“On the eve of Passover, we delivered hundreds of Passover kits to each Jewish family in town so they could observe the Seder in the comfort of their home. In addition, we distributed hundreds of food packages and hot meals to the needy population and senior citizens unable to leave their homes,” the Rabbi adds. “We are grateful to the many young volunteers who helped us make this happen.”
In normal times, the Jewish community of Kherson operates a popular Jewish school and kindergarten, soup kitchen and humanitarian aid projects, programs for teenagers and students, community events, an active synagogue, classes and lectures and much more. “We trust the police to do its best and look forward to the days when the coronavirus will be behind us so that we can continue developing this wonderful community,” the Rabbi concluded.