Since returning to Kharkiv, Ukraine in May, Rabbi Moshe Moskovitz has done his best to ensure the continuity of Jewish life in the shell-battered city. But when a community member, Masha, asked him to plan a b’rit milah for her soon-to-be-born son, the challenges of war time came home for Rabbi Moskovitz. Just a few short months ago, arranging a brit was an everyday occurrence. Now, there wasn’t a mohel left in the country.
Rabbi Moskovitz reached out to his colleagues, and Rabbi Mendel Cohen, the Chabad emissary to war-ravaged Mariupol who currently resides in Israel, answered the call. But the journey to Kharkiv is longer than it once was. Rabbi Cohen first flew to Moldova and then drove a van across the vast plains of Europe’s largest nation to reach Kharkiv. Twenty hours later, his arrival caused a stir.
Thursday morning, July 7th, on her son’s eighth day, a very emotional Masha carried her son up the stairs leading to Kharkiv’s central synagogue. Against incredible logistical odds, Masha’s dream came true as her son was welcomed into the covenant of Abraham. His new name, Moshe. The war-weary city fell silent for a moment as the Jewish community gathered to welcome their newest member. “There’s a war on, but there’s another link in the golden chain of Abraham,” Rabbi Moskovitz said. “The community was very moved to witness young Moshe’s b’rit, and we’ll remember this day for a long time to come.”