‘It’s barbaric’: Worldwide Jewish community reacts to Russian invasion, recall World War II horrors

SPOKANE, Wash. — Supplies are running low and bombs continue to fall on Ukraine. The destruction has Jews across the world recalling trauma from World War II.

According to the World Jewish Congress, Ukraine has the fourth largest Jewish community in Europe. Yisroel Hahn is the Rabbi at the Chabad of Spokane County. Sitting in his South Hill synagogue, he’s spending whatever time he can with his friend and fellow rabbi trying to get his family to safety.

“I’ve been driving now the whole time,” said Yechiel Shlomo Levitansky. He’s been a rabbi in Ukraine for 17 years but had to leave when the war grew in intensity. “Nobody believed in their wildest dreams that we would get to the point where we are today.”

As he heads to the airport in Romania, on his way to Israel for the time being, he says this war is strikingly similar to World War II.

“No question about it. This is a scene right out of the movies,” Levitansky said.

“The kind of suffering that you’re seeing is unacceptable. It’s something that no person should have to go through,” Hahn said.

At the Chabad of Spokane, Hahn is organizing prayer events for the community to take part in. These prayers may be on the other side of the world, but they’re traveling.

“Jewish people around the world are praying for them. They feel like this is what’s keeping them strong,” Levitansky said. “This is what’s keeping them safe.”

People are finding safety in the same shelters from the war that has caused decades of damage.

“The bomb shelters are there from World War II,” Levitansky said. “They haven’t changed since then. They haven’t been touched since then.”

Both rabbis are shocked destruction is devastating Eastern Europe all these years later.

“It’s barbaric. It’s scary that something like this can happen in 2022. It really is,” Levitansky shared. “It’s petrifying that this can happen and continue going on, and it’s not stopping. No one’s able to stop it.”

The Chabad of Spokane is accepting donations to help refugees on the ground in Ukraine. You can read more about their efforts and make a donation HERE.

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