Every decent human being in the world is looking on with horror at the criminal violence of Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine. It is profoundly disturbing to watch the cruel impunity of this unprovoked attack.
It is also heartrending. There is so much suffering. How do we respond? Governments of democratic countries must stand together. It is a shocking reminder that as long as there are autocracies in the world, no one can be truly safe. World peace depends on defending and spreading democracy. Democratic countries do not launch wars of aggression because their leaders are answerable to citizens who don’t want death and destruction. And so the cause of freedom and democracy must be defended.
But those are responses for presidents and prime ministers. As individuals we can also do something. As citizens we must add our voices to the demands that the South African government impose sanctions on Russia.
We can help our brothers and sisters who are suffering through the power of tzedakah. There are many inspiring organisations that have sprung into action and need our help.
An urgent plea has gone out from United Hatzalah to support their volunteers on the ground in the cities of Uman, Odessa and Kiev, enabling them to help those in need. United Hatzalah is also working to send out a team of additional paramedic volunteers, along with vital medical equipment and protective gear. You can contribute to this life-saving mission here.
Chabad, too, has launched an emergency campaign to assist Ukrainian families who have lost their homes, or are without food and medical supplies. You can donate to the campaign here.
We can also reach out to our fellow Jewish community in Ukraine with messages of support and concern. There are many platforms to do so. One way is through The Shabbos Project Facebook page, which reaches many in the war-affected areas.
And we can help by davening. Let us not forget how Hashem has given us the power of prayer to change the world. Let us all add special prayers and say extra tehillim for Ukraine in our davening. A worldwide tehillim group has been set up for this purpose.
Let us pray for peace in the country, for strength and safety for the many in danger, and for a refuah for all those who have been harmed in the conflict.
Let us also pray for redemption. We are about to enter Adar II, the month when we celebrate the redemption of Purim, which then leads into Nissan, the month of Pesach, when we remember how we were redeemed from slavery. This is a time of redemption, which is something our world needs now more than ever.
But let us pray not just for the world to be saved from this war, but from all wars. Let us pray for the speedy arrival of the final redemption – the Divine promise for our world of a time when “nation will not lift up sword against nation, and will never again learn war”.
Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein