Ukrainian Jews Reconstruct Their Lives in a Romanian Coastal Town

In the 19th century, the newly independent kingdom of Romania received a large influx of Jewish immigrants who fled restrictive laws, dwindling economic opportunity, and occasionally pogroms in the Russian empire. Now it is the Russian Federation’s invasion of its former Ukrainian territories that is causing Jews to take refuge in Romania. Amie Feris-Rotman takes a look at the lives of some 1,000 Jews from Odessa who have tried to re-establish their community in the Romanian resort town of Neptun:

The high-stakes drama of their exodus in the first week of March 2022 seemed almost biblical. Community leaders made the decision to leave Odessa quickly, departing in a convoy of eight buses and four vans. Six containers of kosher food trailed close behind. The caravan was led by former members of the Israel Defense Forces—hired by the community—who drove motorcycles, snaking their way through the heavily forested Carpathian Mountains and stopping every 40 miles to check which roads were safe to use.

Romania and Ukraine are adjacent to each other, and only 200 miles separate Neptun and Odessa; the Ukrainian city is situated to its north, on a shallow indentation of the Black Sea. But the emotional and psychological distance between the two is vast. To help offset that distance, the refugee children’s first summer was spent playing in the waters of the shimmering Black Sea, its smells and changing light so familiar to them.

It is with a certain tragic irony that the Odessa Jews who have found refuge today in Neptun are largely the descendants of those who had managed to flee the city before Nazi occupation and Romanian-allied violence. Such uncomfortable truths are not lost on the community. When [one refugee] packed up her Odessa apartment, instructing her five daughters to get dressed in their favorite clothes, she channeled her ancestors from World War II. “I kept telling myself, ‘Those who stayed, got killed.’ So I threw some matches and medicine in a bag and started getting ready.”

Read more at Newlines

More about: Romania, Ukrainian Jews, War in Ukraine

Hamas Wants a Renewed Ceasefire, but Doesn’t Understand Israel’s Changed Attitude

Yohanan Tzoreff, writing yesterday, believes that Hamas still wishes to return to the truce that it ended Friday morning with renewed rocket attacks on Israel, but hopes it can do so on better terms—raising the price, so to speak, of each hostage released. Examining recent statements from the terrorist group’s leaders, he tries to make sense of what it is thinking:

These [Hamas] senior officials do not reflect any awareness of the changed attitude in Israel toward Hamas following the October 7 massacre carried out by the organization in the western Negev communities. They continue to estimate that as before, Israel will be willing to pay high prices for its people and that time is working in their favor. In their opinion, Israel’s interest in the release of its people, the pressure of the hostages’ families, and the public’s broad support for these families will ultimately be decisive in favor of a deal that will meet the new conditions set by Hamas.

In other words, the culture of summud (steadfastness), still guides Hamas. Its [rhetoric] does not show at all that it has internalized or recognized the change in the attitude of the Israeli public toward it—which makes it clear that Israel still has a lot of work to do.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security