By COLlive reporter
The central synagogue in the Eastern Ukrainian city of Zaporozhye was hit by firebombs on the night of February 23, adding to an already contentious feeling Jews in the country are feeling.
The Giymat Rosa Synagogue, a new facility built by Chabad and inaugurated in 2012, sustained minor damage. Traces of the Molotov cocktails thrown by unidentified individuals are seen on the facade of the balcony of the building in Zaporozhye, located 250 miles southeast of Kiev, according to a report Monday on the news site timenews.in.ua.
A spokesperson for the Zhovtneviy District where the synagogue is located said no one was hurt in the attack and that police were searching for suspects, JTA reported.
Officers found the neck of a glass bottle which was used as a Molotov cocktail, according to the Central Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Michael Oishie, one of the Chabad activists in Zaporozhye, had left the shul just 20 minutes before the attack that was captured by the building’s security surveillance camera.
“It’s scary to think what would have happened if this group of masked men with Molotov cocktails would have met him,” said the city’s Chief Rabbi Nachum Ehrentreu who directs Chabad activities there.
Rabbi Ehrentreu told COLlive that the police are “showing willingness to help but they are also busy with calming the crowds and it’s hard for them to dispatch forces to take care of us.”
The Ukrainian capital and other cities have seen the eruption of a wave of violent demonstrations that culminated this weekend with the apparent ousting of President Viktor Yanukovych, JTA reports.
Several Jewish communities in Kiev have beefed up their security arrangements during the unrest. Other communities put their activities on hold out of safety concerns, the news agency reported.
An article on the Haaretz news website falsely claimed that Chabad rabbis in Ukraine are “aligned with the Kremlin” and thus, supporting the Yanukovych administration accused of the murder of about 100 protesters who died in street clashes last week.
While the identity of the attackers has yet to be revealed, Rabbi Ehrentreu stated: “At this time of anarchy and uncertainty, we need to keep a low profile, avoid needless friction and not get into conflicts.”
He said that “local politics is completely outside our area of interest and occupation as Jews, and certainly as rabbis and Shluchim. Our interest is increasing and glorifying the Torah, bringing Jews to the fold and their Father in heaven.”
In regards to Ukraine’s interim leadership, the rabbi said: “It’s important to remember that the opposition has already been in power for four years, and has maintained a very good relationship with the Jews and Jewish communities.”
You hear that, Haaretz?