This morning I hid the newspaper from my children, again. I feel uncomfortable with my children eating breakfast cereal and looking at the front-page picture of bodies, in bags, lying in a mass grave in Ukraine.
This week, Ukrainian President Zelenensky pleaded with the UN Security Council to stop the mass murder of civilians. He said, “Yesterday I returned from Bucha. It is difficult to find a war crime that the occupiers have not committed. They executed whole families – adults and children. They tried to burn their bodies. I address you on behalf of civilians shot in the back of the head, killed in apartments, blown up by grenades, crushed by tanks in civilian cars in the middle of the road. For fun. Whose limbs were cut off, whose throat was cut. Who were raped and killed in front of their own children. Their tongues were torn out only because they did not hear from them what they wanted to hear. This is being done by a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. So where is the peace that the United Nations was created to guarantee? So where is the sSecurity that the Security Council is supposed to guarantee? There is no security. What is the purpose of the UN? It is not to maintain peace, and protect peaceful nations?
Today, Russia commits the most heinous war crimes since World War II. They murder innocents and steal everything from food to gold earrings they just rip out with blood.
We are dealing with a state that turns the right of veto in the UN Security Council into a right to kill. The UN is allowing evil to go unpunished, destroying generations of work for peace and security. If this continues, the finale will be that each state will rely only on the power of arms to ensure its security, not on international law, not on international institutions.
How to stop it? Immediately bring the Russian military and those who gave them orders, to justice for war crimes in Ukraine. Remove Russia as an aggressor and a source of war, from blocking decisions about its own aggression, its own war. And then do everything that can establish peace.
Ukraine needs peace. We need peace. Europe needs peace. The world needs peace.”
Like the Four Questions of Pesach, Zalensky asks, “Where is the UN? What is the point of a UN, if a peaceful nation can be invaded and its civilians slaughtered?”
The Torah tells us “Do not stand idle while your neighbor bleeds.”
Next week is Pesach. This week, Putin is worse than Pharaoh. Pharaoh killed only the first-born sons of the Israelites. Putin is killing sons and daughters, young and old.
Can we celebrate freedom, while the blood of thousands is being spilled wantonly? Can we eat a holiday meal in our warm homes and not think of the more than 11 million refugees who will not be eating in the homes they have fled? They have lost everything in an instant.
Will we stand up to this modern-Pharaoh, or just look the other way?
When we say “Never again,” do we mean it?
This Wednesday at 12pm I invite you, our congregation, to a zoom with me and Jonathan Orenstein, the director the JCC of Krakow, which is now a refugee center. We will be joined by members of Beth Torah and Rabbi Brusso. Together we will discuss how we can make a real difference to increase good in our world.
This Passover may we truly work to bring freedom.
Rabbi David Wilfond