South Orange synagogue holds interfaith prayer service for people of Ukraine
An interfaith prayer service and vigil was held in South Orange to support the people of Ukraine.
The small group gathered at sunset on the steps of Oheb Shalom Congregation. The service was led by Rabbi Abigail Treu. Her message, which was recited several times, was to love your neighbor.
“What does it mean to love your neighbor? It means asking the hard questions about how to end a war once it starts,” Treu says.
An end to the war in Ukraine is not in sight as bombings on buildings in the country intensify. Citizens have had to flee their homes, becoming refugees in western Ukraine, Poland and Romania. Children have to take cover in the basement of a hospital.
“For nine days, we have been seeing a fierce war – destroying our cities, shelling our people, our children, residential buildings, churches, schools – destroying everything that provides a normal life, human life,” says Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
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The United States has sent aid to Ukraine and as economic sanctions against Russia increase, the U.S. Secretary of State sent a message to the people of Russia.
"We take these actions, not because we oppose the Russian people. We do not. We regret that tens of millions of Russians will suffer because of the dangerous decisions made by a tiny circle of corrupt leaders and their cronies who've consistently put their interests above those of the Russian people,” said Secretary Anthony Blinken.
One of the congregants with Oheb Shalom is Inessa Spiegelman. She fled Russia during the fall of the Soviet Union in 1992. From her home in South Orange, she is reaching out to assist orphanages in Ukraine.
“I have a close relationship to them there and trying to assist financially and spread the word because Ukraine has been under attack for almost a year now,” she says.
Rabbi Treu has been personally touched by this conflict. Her husband is Russian, and her in-laws are from Russia and Ukraine.