It feels as if we are living in two different realities.
One is ours, right here.
When I walk my dogs early in the morning, I see the Hudson; it looks almost as if it’s lit from underneath, an otherworldly blue that starts just around daybreak and lasts a heartbreakingly short time. The moon’s still up, and this morning it was a quarter gone; I know that it’s waning, soon it will vanish, and then it will reappear. The next full moon, in three week’s time, will mark the first seder.
But that’s in three weeks. This morning, the sun rises, and it gilds the huge freighters in the center of the river, and the sturdy, small-by-comparison tugboats that boss those massive freighters around.
The flowering trees are starting to turn purple and the forsythias as showing yellow already. It’s springtime both by the calendar and in real life.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, horror unfolds.
It seems impossible that this far into human history, one man, one monster, one maniac, can unleash so much pain and death.
We watch videos of the explosions. We listen to the stories of the survivors, of the women who took their children to the border, of the elderly refugees, of the very old Holocaust survivors who once more have to escape from horror.
How is this possible?
We listen to the stories of the Jewish community leaders who went there, and we are vicariously proud of the organizations that set up structures to help the refugees. We hope that members of the community donate to the JDC, or to the local federation — the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, the Jewish Federation of Rockland County, the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest — that will pass the funds along to where they are needed the most. Yes, we made this same ask last week, because despite Russia’s bigger army, greater cache of weapons, and larger supply of everything, it hasn’t won this war. The Ukrainians are holding on.
But then we think of two Jewish Ukrainians who have been in the news during the last few years. One is its president, Volodymyr Zelensky. The other is a Ukrainian-American Jew, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, who came to this country as a child and has gone on to serve it with honor, integrity, and courage.
With men like that representing the Ukrainian Jewish community, it’s not surprising that Ukraine has not given up.
We watch them with pride and awe. We hope that Ukraine will prevail. Until then, and for as long as it’s necessary, we will support it.