By Menachem Posner – Chabad.org
Even as central Kiev burst into chaos this week, with bloodshed between protesters and police continuing to escalate, Chabad-Lubavitch of Kiev has been maintaining its level of activity and has even grown its staff.
Just last Friday, newly married Rabbi Shmuli and Malky Zejger arrived from Israel to Kiev, where Rabbi Zejger will work with youth, and Mrs. Zejger will serve as principal in Chabad’s Or Avner Jewish Day School.
The rabbi is a native of Brazil. His wife is the daughter of Rabbi Jonathan and Elka Markovitch, who have been directing Chabad activities in Kiev since 2000. The Zejgers married earlier this month in Israel. Their wedding, which was supposed to be held in Kiev, was moved to Jerusalem out of concern for the safety of the guests.
Since his arrival in Kiev, Shmuel Zejger says he has seen many people come to Chabad looking for help.
Functioning as Usual in Unsteady Times
“The banks are closed, and there were talks of the airports shutting down, and people, especially foreigners, are nervous,” he said in a cellphone interview. “But once you are here for a while, you realize that things are not as scary as they seem. More than anything else, people need a calming voice and a comforting hug, to know that someone is there for them.”
Even though public schools have been closed since the violence ratcheted up in the past 24 hours, Zejger says that the Chabad school has remained open, and other Chabad activities continue to function as usual.
“After we got married in Israel, people have been asking us why we are moving to Kiev with all the unrest,” he concluded, “and we reply that in Israel and the U.S., we are not needed, and in Ukraine, we can make a positive difference in people’s lives, so we are here.”