Ukraine Begins Construction on Village for Jewish Refugees

The Anatevka Jewish Refugee Community, located 15 miles from the country’s capital, is expected to welcome 100 new residents next month — just in time for the Jewish Holidays and the start of the school year.

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A reconstruction of a wooden 17th century synagogue once located in Gwozdziec, a formerly Polish town in Ukraine, at the Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw.Credit: AP

A prominent Ukrainian rabbi and Israel’s ambassador to Kiev attended the groundbreaking ceremony for a village for Jewish refugees from the conflict raging in eastern Ukraine.

At the ceremony earlier this month near the village of Gnativka, which is located 15 miles from the country’s capital, Israeli Amb. Eliav Belotserkovsky watched as cement trucks poured the foundations for the village, where 100 new residents are expected to settle next month, the village’s initiator, Rabbi Moshe Azman, told JTA Friday.

“We are set to accommodate the newcomers in time for the Jewish Holidays and the start of the school year,” said Azman, who has used his Kiev community’s resources for the past year to accommodate dozens of Jews who had to flee their homes in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions amid fighting between Russian-backed separatists and government troops.

Belotserkovsky, who assumed his post last year, said the project was proof of “the value of arvut hadadit — mutual responsibility, the responsibility of any Jewish person to care for another,” Azman said.

Azman launched the plan to build the Anatevka Jewish Refugee Community in summer. The first phase of the $6 million project was paid for with money raised locally and abroad.

The name Anatevka – which is also the name of the fictional Jewish town which serves as the setting for the hugely famous Broadway musical “Fiddler on the Roof” – was selected for its resemblance to the adjacent village Gnativka, the project’s manager Chaim Klimovitsky said.

The wooden houses selected for the first phase of the project “will offer better insulation in winter than concrete houses,” Azman said.