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

In the Aftermath of a Deadly Attack, President Sisi Should Visit Israel

On June 3, an Egyptian policeman crossed the border into Israel and killed three soldiers. Jonathan Schanzer and Natalie Ecanow urge President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to respond by visiting the Jewish state as a show of goodwill:

Such a dramatic gesture is not without precedent: in 1997, a Jordanian soldier opened fire on a group of Israeli schoolgirls visiting the “Isle of Peace,” a parcel of farmland previously under Israeli jurisdiction that Jordan leased back to Israel as part of the Oslo peace process. In a remarkable display of humanity, King Hussein of Jordan, who had only three years earlier signed a peace agreement with Israel, traveled to the Jewish state to mourn with the families of the seven girls who died in the massacre.

That massacre unfolded as a diplomatic cold front descended on Jerusalem and Amman. . . . Yet a week later, Hussein flipped the script. “I feel as if I have lost a child of my own,” Hussein lamented. He told the parents of one of the victims that the tragedy “affects us all as members of one family.”

While security cooperation [between Cairo and Jerusalem] remains strong, the bilateral relationship is still rather frosty outside the military domain. True normalization between the two nations is elusive. A survey in 2021 found that only 8 percent of Egyptians support “business or sports contacts” with Israel. With a visit to Israel, Sisi can move beyond the cold pragmatism that largely defines Egyptian-Israeli relations and recast himself as a world figure ready to embrace his diplomatic partners as human beings. At a personal level, the Egyptian leader can win international acclaim for such a move rather than criticism for his country’s poor human-rights record.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: General Sisi, Israeli Security, Jordan