A Jewish community center and synagogue were firebombed in Ukraine late Monday, according to the Chabad Lubavitch organization.
Fears that the tumult in Ukraine would place the Jewish community in harm’s way appeared to be realized late Monday, when Chabad, the religious outreach program which has managed to create a global presence, said that Molotov cocktails were hurled at a newly built facility in the southeastern Ukraine town of Zaporozhye.
Chabad officials said the damage was “mostly cosmetic” and there do not appear to be any casualties. The assailants are believed to have immediately fled the scene, though they were caught on camera in the act.
Jewish religious officials have expressed concern that law enforcement’s preoccupation with the political turmoil and rioting would leave Jewish institutions exposed to violent forms of anti-Semitism.
As a result, Chabad said it is doing all it can to ensure that its facilities and congregants are protected.
“Our synagogue is surrounded by a barrier, the doors are all automatic, and we have round-the-clock security staff,” Chabad Rabbi Nachum Ehrentrau says. “In these uncertain times, we are, of course, even more cautious, doing all we can to ensure the safety of the community center and its visitors.”
Ehrentrau told the Chabad web site that the city’s Jewish residents are confused.
“On one hand, there are those who are urging people to evacuate. On the other hand, there are those who are minimizing the risks,” he explains. “It is important to remember that the opposition has been in the government for four year, and has kept very good relations with Jewish people and the Jewish community. Yet in a time of chaos and uncertainty, we must keep a low profile and avoid unnecessary friction.”