A Glimmer of Hope for a Jewish Community in War-Torn Ukraine

When the Russia-Ukraine war began in 2014, the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol saw heavy fighting; when the frontlines stabilized, it found itself just behind them—and its denizens soon grew accustomed to the sound of sporadic artillery fire. This year, Russian forces destroyed Mariupol almost completely. Dovid Margolin writes:

Gone is the city’s theater, where some 300 people were killed in an airstrike in May. Homes, stores, hotels, and parks have likewise disappeared—they, like the streets they once lined, turned to rubble. Mariupol’s lone synagogue was not spared either. Only the facade remains.

But on Saturday evening, workers pulled something out of the debris: the large metal Chanukah menorah that had once graced the synagogue sanctuary. It had somehow survived the intense fires that destroyed the building and was recovered a day before Hanukkah.

“There’s a sense of great emotion in our community,” says Rabbi Mendel Cohen, director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Mariupol and the city’s only rabbi since 2005. “The overall feeling is that we are witnessing the idea that ‘a little light dispels much darkness.’”

For years, Cohen’s synagogue had operated out of his modest Jewish community center in Mariupol. Sometime before the war, as Jewish life in the seaside city continued expanding, the rabbi sought bigger premises and rented a large space for a synagogue in a solid building on Prospect Mira in the city center, using the old building for storage and limited programming. Both buildings were destroyed.

Read more at Chabad.org

More about: Hanukkah, Ukrainian Jews, War in Ukraine

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy