April 19, 2024
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April 19, 2024
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Riverdale Jewish Community Rallies for Ukraine

Approximately 200 people from Riverdale synagogues and the community at large gathered recently on Mosholu Avenue opposite the Russian Diplomatic housing complex in the Bronx to raise their voices against the Russian war against Ukraine. This is where Rabbi Weiss, senior rabbi of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, and others demonstrated for the past 40 years, demanding freedom for Soviet Jews. The corner was renamed Sharansky Square, reminding Russians still living in the secured compound of the communities’ unfailing persistence to secure freedom for Natan Sharaksy, Soviet Jews and other people seeking freedom.

Rabbi Stephen Exler, rabbi of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale said: “Every single day no matter what is occurring in the world, the Jewish tradition is that every prayer ends with a prayer for peace. When there is violence anywhere in the world, we pray for peace. We stand with the Ukrainian people.

“We are gathered at this spot not because we have a personal vendetta against an individual who might be living in this space, but we stand in this spot because this is where we can send a message to President Putin that we oppose their aggression and we abhor their hatred and violence and will not tolerate it. We oppose Russian aggression!”

Rabbi Weiss spoke the closing words. “Who would have thought that 30 years after the fall of communism, that we would once again be standing again in this place raising a voice of moral conscience?” he asked. “During those days, we were often asked: ‘Why here? This is not a consulate building. This is not a mission. Why at a residence?’ And I will respond simply. We know that the politicians’ and Russian diplomats’ hearts were hardened. But we knew that by standing here in front of their home that children would hear and see the protest and go to their parents and ask, with their very small innocent hearts, ‘How dare you? How dare you?’

“That’s why we’re here. We are here in front of a residence building because this kind of residence building at this moment is being indiscriminately bombed by Putin. We are here to tell Putin that you have joined the annals, the history, of the wicked of the wicked but as those wicked have been overcome in the past, you too will be overcome. And we are here to turn to our own government and NATO officials with words of thanksgiving, but in the same spirit, we call out as one ‘You must do more!’

“We are here to declare as one, each of us, that I today am a Ukrainian,” Rabbi Weiss concluded. “I know as a Jew that over one million Jews were killed in the Ukraine during the Holocaust, and tens of thousands at Babi Yar. I declare, and I ask you to declare, ‘I am a Ukrainian!’ We want President Zelensky to know that we are with him.”

Other elected officials and rabbis present included Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz; Rabbi Shmuel Hain, YIOZ; Rabbi Binny Kraus; Rabbi Tom Gardner Temple; Rabbi Yonah Berman; Rabbi Katie Greenberg of the Conservative Synagogue Adath Israel of Riverdale; Rabbi David Kalb; Rabbanit Braca Jaffe and others.


Robert Kalfus can be reached at [email protected] or 917-379-4165.

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