KIEV, Ukraine – The current political crisis in Ukraine has propelled its Jewish community to request emergency training from Israeli emergency response organizations, United Hatzalah and ZAKA.
As the Ukrainian crisis developed during the past three months of anti-government protests, Ukrainian rabbis appealed for help in emergency response training. Rabbi Moshe Reuven Azman, the Ukrainian Chief Rabbi, and Rabbi Hillel Cohen of the Ukrainian Hatzalah made the request to ZAKA Chairman Yehuda Meshi Zahav and United Hatzalah President Eli Beer. The men mobilized their organizations to work together to train the local team in only a matter of days.
United Hatzalah and ZAKA, in cooperation with the Isralife Foundation have worked together to train Jewish volunteers of the local Kiev Hatzalah. The Ukrainian participants received training in the latest emergency, rescue and search techniques in order to respond and provide aid to mass casualty emergencies should the crisis in the country escalate.
The Ukrainian participants have also been trained to provide first aid in mass casualty emergency situations, and include protocols for CPR, treating suffocation, injuries and diseases.
“We were pleased to come to the assistance of the Ukrainian community during their time of need and provide the emergency training their volunteers need to handle local emergencies in an efficient and timely manner,” said Beer. “Both ZAKA and United Hatzalah each offered unique services and perspectives on emergency response and we were happy we could work together to help our fellow Jews.”
“We are grateful to both organizations for responding so quickly and generously to help our community in this time of need. The events surrounding us require our community to be prepared with the latest training and techniques so we can respond to emergencies and help our people quickly in these dangerous times,” said Rabbis Azman and Cohen in a joint statement.
In the Ukraine, much of the Jewish population is located in the country’s capital, Kiev while other sizable communities reside in Lvov, Dnepropetrovsk and Odessa. Since the early 1990s, 340,000 Ukrainian Jews have immigrated to Israel.
Michael Freund, founder and chairman of Israel Returns (Shavei Israel), who has worked with a sector of the Ukrainian Jewish community for years, warns of dire circumstances the Ukrainian Jewish community is now facing.
“A telling sign of the mounting danger facing the Ukrainian Jewish community is the fact that they have begun to undergo training to prepare for emergencies,” Freund said. “With the crisis in the Ukraine likely to intensify in the coming weeks and months, it is essential that we do everything possible to bring Ukrainian Jewry on Aliya to Israel as soon as possible.”
Freund’s organization is working hand in hand with Subbotnik Jews in the Ukraine who seek to move to Israel and better their lives.
“At Shavei Israel, we are working with a few communities of Subbotnik Jews in the Ukraine, and I hope that we will be able to get them to Israel in the near future, before it is too late. I urge Jews and Christians around the world to pray for the safety of Ukrainian Jewry and for their expedited exodus back home to Zion,” Freund stated.
In related news, a Ukrainian man was treated in Israel yesterday, Wednesday, March 5, after suffering severed damage to his left forearm from shrapnel in Kiev’s Independence Square during riots. Referred to as Alexander S., he was the first Ukrainian to arrive to Israel for treatment, following approval by Dr. Valeria Bivitzchik from Rehovot’s Kaplan Medical Center, who recently volunteered with the Ukrainian Red Cross and arranged for injured citizens to be flown to Israel for medical treatment. Alexander was brought to Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot where he will undergo surgery to reconstruct the bones and repair the soft issue in his arm under the care of hospital’s surgical and orthopedic departments in the coming days.