Passover in Ukraine

In the beleaguered Ukrainian city of Odessa, Rabbi Avraham Wolff runs a Chabad synagogue where hundreds of community members have been lining up to receive a kilogram of matzah each for their Passover dinner tables. As Deepa Bharath reports, unleavened bread is hard to find in war-torn Ukraine. Wolff’s wife and children recently fled the Black Sea port city for Berlin; like many other Chabad rabbis in Ukraine, he will be staying to host large public seders. Despite the war, the food shortage, and missing his family, Woolf is determined to maintain good cheer: “I need to smile for my community,” he said. “We need humor. We need hope.”

Chabad, which has deep roots and a wide network in Ukraine, and other groups such as the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and the Jewish Federations of North America, have mobilized to help Ukrainian Jews celebrate Passover wherever they have sought refuge. In Ukraine, Chabad plans 52 public seders welcoming about 9,000 people.

In Odessa, Wolff . . . has been waving in trucks loaded with Passover supplies—matzah from Israel, milk from France, meat from Britain. “We may not all be together, but it’s going to be an unforgettable Passover,” he said. “This year, we celebrate as one big Jewish family around the world.”

The JDC, which has evacuated more than 11,600 Jews from Ukraine, has shipped more than two tons of matzah, over 400 bottles of grape juice, and over 700 pounds of kosher Passover food for refugees in Poland, Moldova, Hungary, and Romania, said Chen Tzuk, the organization’s director of operations in Europe, Asia, and Africa. In Ukraine, their social-service centers and corps of volunteers are distributing nearly sixteen tons of matzah to elderly Jews and families in need, she said.

Read more at Associated Press

More about: Passover, Ukrainian Jews, War in Ukraine

Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security