Ukraine Jews Celebrate Lag B'Omer in Odessa Under Tight Security

First Large Jewish Gathering Since Riots

Getty Images

By JTA

Published May 18, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Hundreds of Odessa Jews celebrated Lag b’Omer under guard in the city’s first large Jewish gathering since deadly riots there two weeks ago.

The participants gathered near the city’s Chabad Jewish school on Saturday evening for a bonfire accompanied by song and dances while a dozen guards secured the perimeter, according to Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder of the International Fellowship of Christians, which provides aid to Jews in the former Soviet Union.

“I came to encourage, inspire and sing, and the truth of the matter is, I became inspired by how the Jewish community is managing, gathering for the first time since the riots to give children a sense of normalcy and some fun,” Eckstein told JTA.

Community leaders told JTA they had suspended activities that involved congregating for safety reasons following the May 2 riots that broke out in downtown Odessa. Forty-two people were killed following clashes between pro-Russian demonstrators and their opponents, as well as police.

Hundreds have died in similar clashes throughout Ukraine during the revolution that ousted President Viktor Yanukovych from power in February. Detractors accused him of corruption and allegiance to Russia, which annexed the Crimea from Ukraine in March. A new round of violence erupted after the annexation between pro-Russian protesters and opponents.

The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, which provides $20 million to $25 million annually in aid to Jews in the former Soviet union, has pledged an extra $5.5 million this year in emergency funding to Ukrainian communities, Eckstein said. He noted that $3 million of the added funding is for security.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Law professor Dan Markel waited a shocking 19 minutes for an ambulance as he lay dying after being ambushed in his driveway. Read the stunning 911 transcript as neighbor pleaded for help.
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.