Torah for this Hour | February 22, 2024

On February 24, 2022, the lives of many people in Ukraine changed beyond recognition. Plans and dreams were shattered in an instant. Loss, destruction, terror, and uncertainty burst into people’s lives. I, like many of my friends, will never forget that day.

That year in March we celebrated Purim together in Czernowitz, which is where we directed the many refugees from all our Masorti communities to gather. We read the Megillah, we laughed and drank and clowned around. It was one of the happiest Purim days of my life.

The entire regularity of the Jewish life cycle trains us to direct our emotions. It is the emergency kit that sustains us when all systems are failing. When sadness and pain spread through one’s body, children’s laughter as they paint their faces and mine with the colors of the Ukrainian flag on Purim also makes its way into the body.

Two years have passed, but the war still remains. These days, every Shabbat service in our congregations in Ukraine begins with the prayer for peace in Israel and ends with the prayer for peace in Ukraine.