Parades Amid Bombings: This is How Lag BaOmer Was Celebrated in Ukraine

In Mykolaiv they marched through the streets, in Zaporizhzhia they had to forgo the parade due to the bombing of the new airport during the height of Lag BaOmer, in Chernivtsi they excitement at the historic Kloyz, in Zhytomyr, the celebrations united the Jews of the western part of the country, in Vinnytsia the entire Jewish community celebrated, and in the capital Kyiv a touching Jewish demonstration took place | Lag BaOmer in Ukraine: This is how it looked.

This is the third Lag BaOmer that Ukrainian Jews have celebrated under the shadow of the relentless crisis, and this year too, they faced numerous challenges. In some cities, they had to forgo the parades and settle for gatherings only. However, in most cities, parades took place in the open streets, led by the city rabbis and Chabad emissaries. Chabad and FJC’s humanitarian network in Ukraine, JRNU, had prepared in advance by producing a series of festive items that accompanied all the events across Ukraine.

A particularly colorful parade was held in the city of Mykolaiv, which is also the birthplace of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, who initiated these unity parades decades ago. “The Lag BaOmer parade took place with great splendor,” said the city’s Rabbi Shalom Gottlieb. “Later on, we gathered together, the entire community, for a party in the synagogue’s yard, with a bonfire, songs, and dances, and many Jews were given the opportunity to don tefillin.”

In the core city of Zaporizhzhia, they had to cancel the parade due to the sensitive security situation and the ongoing bombings. “Unfortunately, there were strong bombings on Lag BaOmer,” said the city’s Rabbi Nachum Ehrentreu. “Among other things, the new airport in our city was hit. It was a real danger to hold a parade and conduct activities.”

In Chernivtsi, a special procession and bonfire were held in the courtyard of the historic Kloyz of the Holy Rabbi of Ruzhin, attended by hundreds of community members. “Towards the end of the event,” said the city’s Rabbi Menachem Mendel Glitsenstein, “a Jewish resident of the Sadigura neighborhood came in and asked to don tefillin and come closer to his Jewish roots.”

In Vinnytsia, one of Ukraine’s cities, a grand parade took place on the city’s main street. “The entire community celebrated,” said the city’s Rabbi Shaul Horowitz. “There was a very festive atmosphere. We marched in a special parade, recited Torah verses, and conveyed meaningful messages in the ways of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai.”

In Kremenchuk, hundreds of the city’s Jews, men, women, and children, gathered for a special parade led by the city’s Rabbi Shlomo Solomon, with children carrying signs with Jewish posters and slogans.

In Zhytomyr, Lag BaOmer was celebrated starting from Friday evening, when hundreds of Jews from all over western Ukraine gathered for a special Shabbaton filled with activities, led by Chabad emissary Rabbi Nachum Tamarin and guided by the Chief Rabbi of Zhytomyr Shlomo Wilhelm.

In Kyiv, the capital city, one of the largest parades in Ukraine took place. Despite the crisis, hundreds of community members marched through the streets of the city to the sound of Jewish music. The children carried colorful balloons and festive signs and sang in honor of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. Following, they participated in a massive gathering led by Chabad emissary Rabbi Mordechai Levenhartz and attended by the rabbis of Kyiv.

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