Ramaz Stands With Ukraine


On Thursday February 24th at 5AM (EET), missiles and airstrikes hit regions all across Ukraine, marking the beginning of Russia’s invasion. Minutes after Putin announced his mission to invade Ukraine under the guise of a “special military operation to denazify Ukraine,” missiles landed in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, and a ground invasion began. Not only did this invasion incite tremendous fear among Ukrainian citizens, but it also began a widespread humanitarian crisis. In the past weeks since the beginning of the attack on Ukraine, Ramaz has immediately taken action in educating its students, donating supplies, and fundraising. 

On the day of the invasion, Ramaz’s Russian Culture Club (Russian refers to any student who associates with any of the sovereign states of the Former Soviet Union) had a crossover event with Parallax in welcoming guest speaker Eugene Ostashevsky. He is a Russian-American writer, poet, translator, and professor at NYU. Although the initial goal of the meeting was to discuss and analyze poetry, Eugene Ostashevksy also discussed the circumstances of his friends both in Ukraine and Russia. He explained that as Russians took to the streets to protest the actions of Putin, on just the first day, over one thousand protesters were jailed. The evening continued with discussion of translated poetry in connection with the history of Ukraine.

The next morning, Rabbi Steimetz came to the Upper School and addressed the Juniors and Seniors during Shacharit and connected the invasion to Parashat Pekudei. A few hours before Shabbat, R’ Manu Hass, Manhattan director of NCSY, posted about an upcoming solidarity rally and prayer at the Ukrainian Consulate. On that Monday, Ramaz students and faculty members, SAR and Clinton students, and parents and children gathered outside the Ukrainian Consulate. It was decorated in posters and flowers, and everyone stood in a semi circle holding Israeli flags in solidarity. Numerous students gave speeches and the rally concluded in song and prayer for Ukraine. 

The next day after mincha, grades 9-12 were called to the auditorium for a short assembly where I shared my Ukrainian-Jewish heritage and urged students and faculty to speak out against war and injustice. That night Russian Culture Club and Rampo had a crossover event and welcomed guest speaker Ramaz alum First Lieutenant Alex Grinberg ‘12. Lieutenant Grinberg discussed the military and geopolitical implications of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, answering questions such as: why did it happen, what does Putin hope to achieve, and why has the invasion been so ineffective. 

At the Lower School, during Oneg on Friday, students chose to dedicate loose change to JDC for relief efforts in Ukraine. At the Middle School, history teachers continue to update their students on current events and I spoke to grades 5-8 after Shacharit as well. Now, Ramaz-KJ is working directly with a team at the Ukrposhta, the Ukrainian post office and freight service, to collect and donate emergency medical and infant supplies, as well as canned foods. The Ramaz community has taken action immediately in every possible form and will continue to.