Construction Project Completed in Zaporizhzhia--A Symbol of Hope

MAY 7, 2024

Several weeks ago, the Jewish community in Zaporizhzhia completed a major construction project that was started four years ago. The dedication of brand new Mikvahs, complete with an underground shelter, was cause for celebration, not only of a beautiful and welcoming facility, but of life, hope and resilience.

Construction of the mikvahs began four years ago, but, “Suddenly, the coronavirus came and dried up all our plans,” says Rabbi Nachum Erentroy, the city’s rabbi and Chabad emissary, “and when we started to recover from the virus, we were hit by the current ongoing crisis.”  Shortly after the invasion, a majority of the community left the city, due to ongoing attacks, and as days passed, more and more residents fled:

“There were moments when it was clear that this city was going to be abandoned, that everything here would go up in flames, attacks day and night, non-stop, with immense damage,” described Rabbi Erentroy.

“We realized at some point that the entire plan for building the Mikvah was becoming history because there wouldn’t be a single person left here. But in parallel, an interesting phenomenon occurred: local Jews who had hidden their Judaism in the past began coming to the synagogue for prayers.  Today our community stands at two thousand people,” said Rabbi Erentroy.

Rabbi Erentroy and his wife Dina, remained in the city and fought for the community’s existence. Continuing to build the Mikvah was an important symbol of their dedication and determination: “Interestingly, the local non-Jewish neighbors were enthusiastic about this construction. When everything in the city froze and was covered in gloom, it was the Jews who were building. They said to us, ‘If the Jews are building, it’s a sign that the crisis will end.’” The project has become a sign of optimism and peace for the entire city.

“The plan, of course, changed, and we built a large shelter beneath the Mikvah complex,” explained Rabbi Erentroy, “both to give people a sense of security and to save their lives in case of alerts. We named the Mikvah ‘Mey Batya’ after my mother-in-law, Mrs. Minsky, who was very devoted to the women of our community.”

Construction of the Mikvah was supported by rabbis across Ukraine, including Rabbi Shmuel Kaminezki, of Dnipro: “We have close support from the Federation of Jewish Communities, and JRNU, which is with us all the way, all year round. This network helps us with everything – from psychologists for Jews coping with crisis difficulties to basic necessities and countless aid channels.”

With the Mikvah complex complete, new projects are underway: “We are about to start building a dairy and meat restaurant for the Jewish community,” Rabbi Erentroy said. The Jewish community in Zaporizhzhia continues to find a way to thrive, and provide much needed support to individuals and families.

With your help we continue to save lives and restore hope.

Together, we Save Lives and Restore Hope!

Shlomo Peles
Executive Director
Rabbi Shmuel Kaminezki
Dnipro, Ukraine
Rabbi Pinchas Vishedsky
Kyiv, Ukraine
Rabbi Moshe Moskovitz
Kharkiv, Ukraine
Rabbi Shlomo Wilhelm
Zhitomir, Ukraine
Rabbi Avraham Wolff
Odessa, Ukraine