Messages from Ukraine

This page was updated on April 15, 2022


A new message from Gesher Galicia's representative in Ukraine. NAME REMOVED returned yesterday to his apartment in Kyiv, having, for reasons of safety, gone to Vinnytsia a month ago.

Kyiv, April 14, 19:45 local time (16:45 UTC)

Despite the fact that the official authorities had warned that it was too early to return to Kyiv, we decided anyway to go home. All my friends who had already returned to Kyiv told me that things had already calmed down in the city and there were signs that it was gradually returning to normal. We therefore left Vinnytsia yesterday for Kyiv, driving for four hours. Usually the journey by car should take three hours, though we had to take a longer route. A month ago,when we drove to Vinnytsia from Kyiv, it took ten hours. There are already more gas and diesel stations on the road than there were when we left Kyiv, but gas is still not available everywhere. Perhaps surprisingly, the price of gas has gone up by only a small amount.

Before entering Kyiv, we were stuck in a traffic jam for about 40 minutes because of the number of cars returning to the capital. Then, as you enter the city, there are the military checkpoints, where they inspect your documents and check the car. In the city itself, there are very many checkpoints and fortified roadblocks on the streets and at intersections, especially on the outskirts. Even in our area, there are checkpoints at almost every intersection, and frequent traffic jams as a result. It is forbidden to photograph the checkpoints and roadblocks, and a special law has been passed to this effect, with potential jail sentences for those disobeying.

Fortunately, our house and my mother's house were not damaged and we have electricity, water, and the Internet. Communications in Kyiv are working. Markets and supermarkets have almost all their usual products, and most pharmacies are also operating. There is a small shortage of food, apparently for logistical reasons, as Russian soldiers had destroyed many food warehouses near Kyiv. The air siren still sounds in the city, though no one pays much attention to it, nor to the occasional sound of distant shelling. The authorities have warned, though, that, as the outskirts of the city are now being cleared of shells and mines, some explosions are likely to be heard.

Earlier today we went to the local market and supermarket, and then — as the weather was good — for a longer walk, to inspect our neighborhood and see how much it had changed in the past month that we were away. A few kilometers from our house, we saw a building that had been destroyed by the falling fragments of a missile that was shot down by the Ukrainian air defense.

Tomorrow I will go to work at the Museum and I will be able to see how things are in the city center. The Museum is still functioning, though without visitors.


Vinnytsia, 17:30 local time [15:30 GMT/UTC, March 28]

It seems that in some ways there has been a pause in active war. Local battles continue near Kiev and in the suburbs of the capital. In Kyiv, it became a bit quieter, and the artillery is no longer heard so strongly. However, the air defense system is also actively working. There have been more rocket attacks in the other regions as well, and air raid alerts are announced simultaneously throughout the country.

Today there was news from Kyiv that one of the city's suburbs, Irpin, had been liberated. Before the war, it was a small town with many parks and many new houses were built for families, who had moved there from Donetsk after 2014 when the war started there. I had friends living in Irpin and for many years I went there to visit my hairdresser. Now these houses are in ruins, and in their yards people were forced to bury their relatives and neighbors who died from the shelling by Russian soldiers. Another colleague of mine, who lives 15 kilometers from Kiev in the direction of Zhytomyr to the west, writes that for two days there have been intensive battles around his village. Everyone wishes, of course, that the war would end as quickly as possible, but to be honest, there is fading hope for this. (end of message)


Post-Shabbat Gesher Galicia News Update from Ukraine/Poland for Saturday, March 26th

1. Heard this today from my friend who used to live in Ivano-Frankivsk but escaped with her mother and little brother to Poland. Her father remained behind. The story of her escape was told in the update of Monday, March 21st.

Thank you a lot for your care. Now I'm safe in small village in Poland. Polish people are so kind to my family! Also there is training alarm signals in Poland, because they they take the threat from Russia very seriously. Our Ukrainian beautiful Lviv was bombed today. We try to be strong and all our thoughts are only about Ukraine. Thank you and your friends again for care about my family. I really appreciate it!

2. We have a new message from Ukraine.

Vinnytsia, 18:40 local time [16:40 GMT/UTC, March 26]

Russia troops have been intensifying their shelling with rockets on all cities across Ukraine. My friends wrote to me from Lviv that there had been three strong explosions there. It is not yet clear what was hit, but it appears that the explosions were on the outskirts of the city. In Kyiv, the air defense system is constantly working and artillery fire is heard. Vinnytsia is relatively quiet. Despite what has been said in the media and by some politicians, Kherson is still under occupation.(end of message)


Vinnytsia, 17:45 local time [15:45 GMT/UTC, March 24]

This morning I heard from several colleagues working in museums who had managed to escape from Mariupol. They wrote that the Kuindzhi Art Museum, where the original works of Arkhip Kuindzhi and Ivan Aivazovsky were stored, had been destroyed by a shell. The local city museum was also destroyed, where unique documents from the period of Catherine the Great were kept, as well as historical artifacts from the city. The fighting in the city continues and does not stop for a minute. However, I still have no information from the remaining colleagues from my group. It has also been an unverving time in Kyiv today, with the air defense system constantly in operation. However, on the left (eastern) bank, it seems, they have managed to push the Russian troops back by 30 kilometers. Colleagues in Kyiv have written that the artillery is no longer heard so loudly in the city itself. But the city's outskirts are still under fire. In Vinnytsia things are relatively quiet. (end of message)


Vinnytsia, 14:00 local time [12:00 GMT/UTC, March 23]

Overall, the situation does not change much. In fact, it seems to me that the situation has stabilized. And this, unfortunately, may mean that things will be frozen and that the war will not end quickly. But it's difficult to say right now. For the last two days, air alerts have been signaled throughout the country - and almost simultaneously in all cities. The cities of the east and the south of the country are suffering most from the shelling. Mariupol continues to fight. Unfortunately, there is still no information from some of my friends there because there is no connection and no electricity. And then, of course, there is Kyiv. Last night, two areas on the right (western) bank of the Dnieper in Kyiv were shelled again, and again residential buildings and a shopping center were damaged. Also today a long curfew ended, during which street fighting was heard, according to what my friends wrote to me.

In the south, Kherson has been under the occupation of Russian troops for some weeks now. I have two colleagues there, who tell me that people in Kherson are organizing protests every day and trying to expel the occupying forces. However, Russian troops break up any protests violently, shoot at unarmed people, and detain and imprison activists. Ukrainian humanitarian aid, food and medicine are allowed to pass into Kherson. The most problematic matter there, though, is to do with the supply of medicines. (end of message)

Hope all is well on your side of the globe.

I wanted to thank you for sharing the news about our work for the refugees. We had a few people contacting us and asking how they could help. This is very much appreciated.

Things have been crazy since the start of the war, but the last 7 days were even more complicated, with the opening of the day care for Ukrainian children. However very quickly we understood that starting the center as soon as possible was a good decision. The kids and their parents needed much help. From simple creation of a safe and welcoming space, to offering regular meals, to creating opportunities to play with pairs, to providing supplies, clothes, shoes (most escaped in a heavy winter clothes and shoes), to offering medical support (three visits to the dentist), to offering English and Polish classes.

All in just 6 days of operation.

Day care is run by two teachers, working full time (Ukrainian refugees themselves), but all the other activities (drawing class, English and Polish language lessons, psychological help, etc) are also conducted/provided by the refugees who arrived in Krakow in the last two-three weeks.

I do think it's important to remember not only about the children but also the adults, who are equally lost and traumatized. To be able to get back to their old professions, even if only for a few hours a week, is a great help not only in financial terms, but also psychological.

The number and scope of the activity is increasing. This week the kids will go for the daylong excursion to the park (with lunchboxes and some sport activities on the ground planned), to the chocolate factory and to the cinema.

Number of kids varies depending on the time of the day. The most we had so far was 23, but the number is now increasing.

This is just to update you on the situation here on the ground.

We do hope the war will end soon.

Thank you again for everything,

Best wishes from Krakow


Vinnytsia, 15:00 local time [13:00 GMT/UTC, March 22]

Across the country, rocket attacks are becoming more frequent. The sirens are sounding more and more often in western Ukraine and in Vinnytsia. Up to now, at least in Vinnytsia, we do not hear explosions after the sirens sound, but all the same, people are becoming more nervous. Today, the authorities again said that another rocket was shot down over the Vinnitsa region.

However, the heaviest attacks continue now to be in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Mariupol. My friends in Kyiv write that a curfew was introduced there starting yesterday (Monday) evening and to last to tomorrow (Wednesday) morning, because of the battles with saboteurs that are heard on the streets of Kyiv. In addition, the air defense system is in operation the whole time. In the east of the country there is constant fighting. Otherwise, for better or worse, there has been little change in the situation.


In remembrance of 80 years ago today...

Now in Ukraine we see the same targeting of innocents and destruction of residential buildings, hospitals, schools, and cultural heritage as was seen 80 years ago, and civilian deaths outstrip the ability of local services to recover and bury victims. Mass graves once again gather the dead much as they did in Rohatyn on March 20, 1942. Indeed, satellite images of the city of Volnovakha in southeastern Ukraine destroyed by Russia one week ago, appear hauntingly similar to aerial photos after the liquidation by fire of Rohatyn’s Jewish ghetto in 1943. This is a time of terror in Ukraine. God full of mercy, grant the innocent victims of all of these wars eternal peace, and watch over our friends and colleagues in Ukraine.

Full report from Rohatyn Jewish Heritage

The speech I had intended to make at the south mass grave in Rohatyn with Rabbi Kolesnik presiding is as follows (as the event was cancelled):

Today is a sad anniversary for all of us, regardless of whether we are grandchildren of Rohatyn Jewish families, or Ukrainians living today in this city which we cherish. 80 years ago, here on this open, windy hill, a human tragedy happened which affected all of us who have connections to this city. A great many people — young and old, men, women, and small children - died here under circumstances impossible to imagine.

For many Jewish families, the horrific events of March 20, 1942 at this site irreparably broke their connection to the town: they no longer consider Rohatyn a place to which they want to return. They no longer have family waiting for them here. For some Rohatyn Jewish families, the pain is still too great — even 80 years later — to consider ever making a visit to Rohatyn. But, moments such as this, when we meet — here — to remember together, help to lessen the pain, and to build bridges between the nations and the generations.

Today, Rohatyners and friends — Jewish and non-Jewish — have come together here to share in collective memory of those who suffered in this place. By our actions, we also offer solace to those living abroad and in Rohatyn today, who know what happened at this place 80 years ago. History, even tragic history, is a part of who we are, and part of what we give forward to our children. We each must believe this to be true, or we would not have come here today, at this site.

On behalf of my Rohatyn families, and on behalf of Rohatyn's Jewish children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren living far away, thank you for joining us in this memorial event. Together we keep alive the truth, and the human values which bind us together. Thank you.

In remembrance


Post-Shabbat Gesher Galicia News Update from Ukraine for Saturday, March 19th

Vinnytsia, 14:10 local time [12:10 GMT/UTC, March 19]

Today everything is calm in Vinnytsia. Here only from time to time air raid sirens sound only from time to time, but, as happened earlier, people do not particularly take note of them. In Kyiv, from what my friends have written to me, it has also become a little calmer now. On the right (western) bank of the Dnieper in Kyiv, Russian troops have been pushed back 70 kilometers from the city and can no longer shell residential areas with artillery. But at the same time, they continue to bombard the city with rockets. The air defense system is generally successful in shooting down missiles, but their remains fall on residential areas and destroy houses and apartments. At the same time, in the suburbs of Kyiv, which are heavily destroyed, a humanitarian catastrophe continues. There is no medicine, no food, and often no drinking water. Russian troops will not allow civilians to be evacuated from the suburbs. As one of my colleagues, who is forced to stay in one of the occupied villages near Kiev, told me, gasoline has now become the main currency there. All power generators, for the provision of light and heat in houses, use gasoline, and it is difficult to come by.

As before, the most terrible situation is in Mariupol. With great difficulty, a humanitarian corridor has started working there, through which civilians have begun to leave, though so far it is possible to leave the city only on foot or by private transport. According to some who have left the city, the Russians are checking all the men at the exit from the city, and if they think that someone took part in defending the city, they are detained and taken away. Such is the treatment of Ukrainians who defended their city.

Shavuah tov.


Updates From Ukraine:

Vinnytsia, 14:10 local time [12:10 GMT/UTC, March 16]

From today Vinnytsia is no longer as safe as it had been for us for the past two weeks. During the night, Russian rockets hit the TV tower area in Vinnytsia, about five kilometers from where we live. At around 4 a.m. we were woken by several strong explosions. While we heard them clearly, we already have experience of judging how close an explosion is, and we understood that these explosions were not that close. Fortunately, it all ended there and the rest of the night and the morning were calm. But it was very difficult to fall asleep again. The night's rocket fire brought us back to the reality of war.

My friends wrote that there are continuous loud noises in Kyiv today, with the city remaining under a curfew, and there is a suspicion that our troops have launched counterattacks near Kiev. However, during the night another residential building was hit by a rocket and badly damaged.

There is some good news as well. Yesterday, two of my students from Mariupol wrote to me. They had managed to escape from the city through the humanitarian corridor, which was launched yesterday. They wrote that life in Mariupol is an unending nightmare, with communications cut, no water or electricity, and fighting in the streets. The fate of my other students from Mariupol is not yet known, but we continue to hope.


From Ukraine:

Vinnytsia, 19:30 local time [17:30 GMT/UTC, March 14]

The weekend passed relatively calmly in Vinnytsia, with only occasional air raid sirens reminding us of the war. In Kyiv, where some of my department colleagues still are, it was relatively quiet. Not far from the city there was heavy artillery fire and the air defense system and sirens were working, which people here have already become accustomed to and don't pay too much attention to.

However, in Kyiv today, not only rockets but also artillery fire began again. In Obolon, a district in the north of the city, a shell hit a residential building. Not far from our own house is the Antonov civil aviation plant, which was hit by rockets this morning. In addition, a Russian rocket was shot down over a residential area near Babi Yar, falling on residential buildings. Friends in Kyiv have written to me, reporting that the intensity of artillery fire around the city has increased today, becoming audible even in those areas where it had not been heard before.

I still have no direct connection with Mariupol and the residents who remained there. According to media reports, heavy fighting is going on in the city and the civilian population has not been able to leave. We have not been able to establish contact with any of our acquaintances from Mariupol.

We received a message from NAME REMOVED, who has sent reports to us before. He lives on the outskirts of Lviv.


From Ukraine

1. NAME REMOVED does not have a report today. He said that he wasn't feeling all that well, and he also had some work to do for the Museum. He is keen though, to send regular reports with information for us to distribute, and he said he would send another report tomorrow.

2. I spoke today by phone with NAME REMOVED who lives in Nadvirna in the Ivano-Frankivsk oblast and does translation work for us. She said that there were 2 times during the night last night that air raid sirens went off. She said that every night before she goes to sleep she gets anxiety attacks and starts shaking because she doesn't know what the coming night will bring.

She said that Nadvirna is full of refugees from the East. Schools are closed and there is not even virtual schooling going on. No learning at all for the children. The schools are being used as shelters for the refugees. She said walking the streets of downtown you now hear a lot of Russian because that is the language of many of the refugees from the East. She said more refugees are arriving every day.

Many men are now leaving the town and their families to join what she calls the Territory Protection which to me sounds like a local militia. Guns are everywhere and that scares her. Needless to say, life is stressful.


From Lviv, March 13

This morning at around 6am I was woken by the sound of rockets flying above my house towards the military base 25km from where I live. The base, as has already been reported, is near Yavoriv, about 35 km west of Lviv and not far from the border with Poland. There are reports that 35 people have been killed and around 150 injured.

Gesher Galicia's representative in Poland, earlier wrote about the strain on Polish society of the huge influx of refugees - some 1.5 million - into the country in the past two and a half weeks, and in particular the many people trying to settle in Warsaw.

We had a short message today from NAME REMOVED, who manages a small bed and breakfast hotel in the center of Warsaw:

Warsaw, March 13

For the last two weeks we've been helping some Ukrainian refugees who have come to Warsaw. This is all heartbreaking. We had some families staying with us at the B&B, and at some at our friends' places. There are many sad stories to tell ...

With the terrible things happening in Ukraine at this moment, everyone here dreams of getting back to the pandemic situation!

Vinnytsia, 14:15 Vinnytsia time [12:15 GMT/UTC, March 11]

1. From Ukraine

As our new life in Vinnytsia gradually settles into a more stable routine, we have realized that we will not be able to return home for at least quite some time. I have managed to establish contact with my Polish colleagues who had collaborated on assistance to Ukrainian museums. Now I am collecting information about the primary needs of our museum, the National Shevchenko Museum in Kyiv, and sending it to my colleagues in Poland. In addition, other museum employees who were able to leave Kyiv have been able to update the social media pages of the museum.

In Kyiv itself, from all the reports I have had, it has been relatively quiet for several days. Only distant explosions have been heard and the air defense system is operating. For two days now there has been a constant evacuation of local residents from the suburbs of Kyiv, which were destroyed by Russian troops. There, as I wrote in my previous report, some people had spent more than a week in basements without water or food. Several of my friends, after a week in such an existence, have now fortunately managed to escape from the suburbs and find their way to Vinnytsia.

This morning, as you will have heard, rocket attacks were launched on Ivano-Frankivsk, Lutsk, and Dnipro. This has brought home to people that no matter where you are, you are still in danger while there is a war going on. I have friends and colleagues in both Ivano-Frankivsk and Dnipro. They were all well today when I wrote to them asking about their safety, and they texted me about the situation.

The most tragic situation of all at the moment is unfolding in Mariupol, on the coast of the Sea of Azov. The city had been desperately defending for almost two weeks against constant shelling. Recently, Russian troops bombed a maternity hospital there. A real humanitarian catastrophe is taking place in Mariupol. For two weeks I haven't been able to contact my students. I don't know if they are alive, but I want to believe and hope so. The city, which in recent years had become a "showcase" for the Ukrainian Donbass, has now been wiped off the face of the earth. Let me now tell you more about Mariupol and how I came to be connected so closely with this city.

A few years ago, the authorities in Mariupol decided to create a new urban cultural center with a permanent exhibition following a modern-style narrative. At the time, along with some colleagues from Poland, I was one of the main consultants for the creation of this center. We selected six students who worked on the ground to set up this project, and we were in constant contact with them. From time to time I went to Mariupol, in the hope that when this museum was finished, all these students would work in it and help run it. It is terribly painful for me to think that everything we had been working on for four years is now in ashes, having been destroyed by the invading army. And the most painful thing of all is that I don't know what has happened with the students and my other friends in this city.

You asked if I had some photos to send. No one dares to take pictures because the Ukrainian Army has asked people not to take photos and not to publish them in the public domain.

2. Gesher Galicia had written to the Central State Historical Archives in Ukraine in Lviv (TsDIAL), an archival advisor to Gesher Galicia - telling NAME REMOVED that we were encouraging support for the appeal to protect the archive, launched by the academic team at the Jagiellonian University. Gesher Galicia as an organization had made a donation to this appeal.

They replied (Lviv, March 11) as follows:

Thank you very much for not deserting us in these difficult times. Your help is timely and important for the archive.

Good wishes to you and your colleagues, for health and well-being.

Thank you for everything!

To Victory!

3. Report today from the Ivano-Frankivsk Jewish community. They have already helped 563 refugees out of the Tempel Synagogue with supplies purchased with aid sent by Gesher Galicia's emergency appeal. He said there is much talk of saboteurs and provocateurs in the area. The community has arranged for "armed organized night guards" for protection of all the goods they have bought and the synagogue. The situation is very tense, especially with the Russian attack on the I-F airport today.

A Gut Shabbos

And a Shabbat Shalom to all.

Let's hope that it is a peaceful one.


News Update from Ukraine for Wednesday, March 9th

1. From NAME REMOVED, Gesher Galicia's representative in Ukraine Vinnytsia, 14:30 Ukraine time [12:30 GMT/UTC, March 9]

Yesterday I did not send a report, because we had a lot of household chores to do. Our daily life has slowly begun to recover here. I even started getting back to my tasks on materials from the Shevchenko Museum in Kyiv, some of which I can do online, as well as coordinating the work of the team in my department. All my colleagues are now scattered around Ukraine and several of them have even left for Poland. But we must try to hold on to some things from our pre-war life so as to be distracted from what is happening in our country. Of course, in Vinnytsia it is quiet and calm, all the shops are open here, and people walk in the streets or drive cars. Compared to the emptiness which Kyiv had become, with the rumble of artillery constantly being heard and the air defense system in action, the situation here seems quite normal. Now, though, we are constantly thinking about those who remained in Kyiv and its suburbs. All these suburbs are destroyed. Some of my friends in the most damaged suburbs have been sitting in the basements of their houses for a week now without access to medicines, food or water. They cannot get out because it is not safe, and there are Russian troops in their towns who won't allow civilians to leave, in effect taking them hostage. Every few hours I write to general group chats online to know that everyone is alive and everything is in order in Kyiv. Today, it appears that some humanitarian corridors may be opened, through which at least a part of the civilian population can move to territory controlled by Ukrainian. I have to hope that all my friends will be fine. For a week now, there has been no connection with my studentsfrom Mariupol - the city on the Sea of Azov - which is subject to a total blockade. All the efforts that the local authorities have made in the last seven years to make it a prosperous European city are now destroyed. The city is in ruins from the constant shelling by Russian troops. So while we are in relative safety, we still cannot sleep peacefully. Even the silence, after the shelling in Kiev, is a little frightening.

(end of message)

2. From Poland Warsaw, 13:00 Warsaw time [12:00 GMT/UTC, March 9]

I have been working, in a personal capacity, with a volunteer group in Warsaw, headed by a Ukrainian coordinator. We are preparing and sending large packages of supplies, including medicines, to Ukraine. The consignments go off to Ukraine two or three times a week. The refugee situation is also becoming critical now in Warsaw. The train stations in Warsaw are overcrowded, with hundreds of people arriving every hour. Warsaw is running short of accommodation, so there is an urgent need to redirect people to other towns as well.

(end of message)

3. From NAME REMOVED in Lviv

Lviv, 12:15, Lviv time [10:15 GMT/UTC, March 9]

I am happy to know that people are concerned about me. Here in Lviv there are an incredible number of refugees, but at least here it is relatively safe for now. Some of the time, I am driving refugees to the border in my car. Everywhere in Ukraine where refugees are fleeing there is total chaos.

4. From NAME REMOVED State Archive of Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast (DAIFO), and archival advisor to Gesher Galicia

Lviv, 09:15, Lviv time [08:15 GMT/UTC, March 9]

I am trying to stay strong. As you know, we had two families coming to stay with us in Ivano-Frankivsk, as refugees from Kharkiv. Now, I myself have had to move to Lviv, to my sister's place, to make room in the apartment in Ivano-Frankivsk for people fleeing Kyiv. This is happening all over western Ukraine.


1. From Ukraine

Vinnytsia, 15:30 Ukraine time [13:30 GMT/UTC, March 7]

We left Kyiv yesterday morning, taking just ordinary luggage, with our clothes and important personal papers. The decision was very difficult for us, because we have absolutely no certainty that we will ever return home. However, it was already becoming unsafe in Kyiv. The artillery fire moved closer and more explosions were heard near our area. In addition, we were afraid that we would not be able to leave Kyiv, just as the residents of Kharkov, Mariupol and some other cities cannot now leave. Therefore, we decided to go to Vinnytsia. The 300 km road, which is usually traveled in three hours, this time took ten hours. Everywhere there were a huge number of cars and congested traffic and nowhere was gasoline available at gas stations. We had a full tank, so we managed to drive here. At present, you can leave Kyiv only on one road, the one to the south. The road to Zhytomyr has been blown up and Russian troops are stationed on it. Therefore, we drove as far south as possible, which was to Uman, and from there we turned west to Vinnytsia. After arriving here worn out in the late evening, we slept well, for the first time in many days.

It is much calmer here. There's not much fighting going on yet, only huge lines for gas stations, with only 20 liters of gas allowed for one car. Today, after waiting an hour and a half, we filled up on fuel for the car. If new dangers come up here we will try to go further west.

All the same, we cannot feel completely safe here either. Yesterday a rocket attack was carried out on Vinnytsia airport and we saw columns of smoke when we passed by later.

These messages between us in Ukraine and you in the world outside, in these difficult early days of the war, are very important. They prevent us from falling into despair, and I really feel supported.

2. From State Archive of Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast (DAIFO), and an archival advisor to Gesher Galicia:

Ivano-Frankivsk, March 7

Thank you for your latest message. You have no idea how important it is for us to feel the support of the rest of the world!


Post-Shabbat News Update from Ukraine/Poland

1. From Ukraine

Kyiv, 11:50 Kyiv time [09:50 GMT/UTC, March 6]

Our night was more or less peaceful. Sometimes the air raid siren went off, but no one pays much attention to it any more. However, this morning it was again very noisy in our district. My director from the Shevchenko Museum lives in the suburbs and he called me to say that there was very serious fighting going on there. Artillery and aviation operations were on progress, and his whole house was shaking. Now the western outer districts of the city are the focus for constant battles. All the same, compared to yesterday, today the sounds of fighting have moved further away from the city and are no longer as intense in the central areas.

Of course, we are glad that the fighting is now more distant, but we'd prefer it to go away altogether.

We continue to resist the invasion. As the local joke here goes, the biggest victory for now is his victory over Facebook.

2. From the State Historical Archives of Ternopil Oblast (DATO)

Ternopil, 20:30 Ternopil time [18:30 GMT/UTC, March 6]

During the war, Ternopil region has been a dependable back-up region away from the worst hostilities, both for internally displaced people and for actively providing humanitarian aid to victims of the fighting. As of March 5, according to official statistics, about 15,000 people have come here and have been provided with housing, food and everything else necessary.

Thank you for your support. In Ternopil, as of today, it is relatively calm, and our colleagues and my family are safe.

3. [Representative in Poland]

If our security is threatened, my family and the families of our colleagues will be forced to migrate abroad. Therefore, at such a time, we would be very grateful to you for your help!

4. We spoke yesterday with NAME REMOVED in the I-F Oblast who does translation work for us. She reported that in Nadvirna they feel far from the center of war activities for now but that life is far from normal. Communications are erratic with many interruptions of cell and internet service. Banks are not keeping normal hours. They are all very anxious about what is happening in the East. It's a very fearful situation.

Shavuah tov.


Subject: Ukraine: after the first week of war

We have several new reports to make, a week after the onslaught on Ukraine began.

1. From Kyiv, Gesher Galicia's representative in Kyiv:

Kyiv, 12:50 Kyiv time [10:50 GMT/UTC March 4]

The night passed more or less calmly. However, the morning turned out to be very disturbed, with continual loud noises in our district. From what we understand, they are shelling the suburbs of Kyiv, where, since yesterday, there has been fighting. Where we are you continually hear planes overhead, artillery and our air defense systems operating. The noise is shattering. So far, there have been no hits in the city close to our area. It is not at all clear what will happen next. We have to hope for a good outcome.

2. From a retired person — March 3

I'm pleased to hear from you. I am with my children in Ivano-Frankivsk. I will not leave Ukraine at this difficult time.

We are waiting for two families of refugees with small children from Kharkiv, who we plan to accommodate (we have big houses). I am also working with a group of people in my city, where we cook food and send it, along with some other supplies, to Kyiv and other places where people are suffering.

we have air raid alerts, things are much calmer so far in this part of Ukraine here than for people in the east, the center and the south of the country.

3. From Lviv PhD student at the Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU), and a friend of Gesher Galicia — Lviv, March 3

I am in Lviv and still doing my PhD. However, for the last week all academic activity has stopped, for obvious reasons.

Here in Lviv everything is quiet and calm, with no bombing yet, so I and my relatives are safe. Much worse is the situation in Kyiv, Kharkiv and some other cities in the east of Ukraine which have been bombed by Russian forces and where many, many people lost their homes (if not lives).

A few of my UCU colleagues have joined our army to resist the invasion but the rest have stayed here trying to help refugees, or supplying our forces, or working to provide information.

We have an initiative from the Ukrainian Institute and the Center for Urban History in Lviv, with a call to foreign academic institutions to suspend their cooperation with Russian institutions for the time of aggression. Here are links with that appeal:

Center for Urban History Call to Academic Universities

Ukrainian Institute Call to Academic Institutions.

We're trying as much as possible to put pressure on Russia and Russian society from different sides to make them realize what's happening and to encourage protests in Russia against the war. Probably, it's the least that we, with our international ties, can do in this field.

Thank you again for your concern. It's really important for us now to realize that we don't stand alone.

Gesher Galicia has also heard from the director of the State Historical Archive of Ternopil Oblast, that he is well, and that he and his colleagues are preparing to defend their city and the archive.

5. Gesher Galicia's representative in Poland, NAME REMOVED (based in Warsaw), is involved in a large group effort to send supplies to people and areas in Ukraine that are in the greatest need. Today, they have been packing a large consignment of medicines that is going off to Ukraine. This group is being assisted by Ukrainian people who have been living in Poland. The group is also working to arrange accommodation, in Warsaw and elsewhere, for refugees from Ukraine who don't already have family or friends to go to when they arrive. NAME REMOVED and his colleagues are also able, if necessary, to travel to the border at Medyka (near Przemysl), to meet refugees who have requested help.

Further updates will follow.

Shabbat Shalom


Subject: News Update from Ukraine for Thursday, March 3rd

Kyiv, 13:35 Kyiv time [11:35 GMT/UTC]

So far today there has been much turbulence in the city! During the night there were several rocket attacks and the siren was constantly on. All morning there were battles in our district, and our artillery and planes were in action. A Russian plane was shot down 10 km from our house. At the moment, the shooting is heard almost constantly. It is not entirely clear what is happening, but it appears that our troops are trying to push the Russians back from Kyiv. A week has passed since the beginning of war, but it feels to me as if it was a long time ago.

Kyiv, 19:50 Kyiv time [17:50 GMT/UTC]

As I reported earlier today, our soldiers were fighting all day long in the western districts of the city, with the use of aviation and artillery. We spent the day listening to the artillery fire. According to officially circulated information, our troops are managing to clear the area. However, there is little solid information. Today has been far from calm, and everyone is worrying about what will happen next.

Video Appeal for help from Gesher Galicia friend Rabbi Moyshe Kolesnik of Ivano-Frankivsk (Stanislavow)

The Gesher Galicia Emergency Fund is sending help to the community.

From Gesher Galicia partner ESJF Jewish Cemeteries Initiative

Last night, residential properties in Borodyanka, Kyiv oblast, Ukraine were bombed. The Borodyanka Jewish cemetery was the second cemetery that the ESJF fenced and protected in 2015 with the help of the mayor. The project was funded by the Federal Republic of Germany.

In September 2019, we visited the Borodyanka Jewish cemetery with H.E Ambassador Michaela Kuechler from the German Foreign Office Auswaertiges Amt and Christina Foerster from the German Embassy in Ukraine to demonstrate the success of our efforts to preserve Jewish cemeteries. In October 2021, we returned to the Borodyanka Jewish cemetery to install an information plaque about the life of the local Jewish community.

Following the work of the ESJF, the local community has taken care of the cemetery. In December 2021, volunteers conducted a cleanup and placed a padlock on the cemetery's gate to ensure its protection.

Now, residential properties in Borodyanka have been destroyed. We are deeply saddened by this tragic news. Our thoughts are with the local community and with the people of Ukraine. We pray for your safety and the restoration of peace.

We want everyone to know that JewishGen is working very hard to provide assistance to its friends and contractors in Ukraine and Gesher Galicia is working together with them in that effort.

Please realize that Kherson became the first large Ukrainian city to fall to the Russians and is now under occupation.

Dear Avraham,

Thank you most warmly for your sympathy and prayers. Yesterday and today I did not hear the sound of firing. We cook and sleep at home. Not all shops and offices are open, yet; but some shops are open and I can buy things; we (my wife and I) have all we need. Thank you. This morning we went out to see how it was outside. We live in Kherson, Ukraine. Here the situation is quiet. People walk quietly, talk to each other, visit shops that are open. We walked, too and then came back home. My family and I are OK.

Subject: News Recap from Ukraine — Wednesday, March 2nd


So good to hear from you, dear friend! Thank you so much for your concern.

So far my family and me are ok, not too bad taking to consideration the circumstances…

Our friends in some places in the east and south-east of Ukraine are in worse conditions than us, but we all hope for better. I have proposed my wife and daughter to leave, we all have foreign passports and USA visas, but they resolutely refused.

From Ukraine

Kyiv, 12:30 Kyiv time, [10:30 GMT, March 2]

The night in Kyiv was relatively quiet. The air raid siren went off several times during the night and in the morning we could hear our artillery firing from the western suburbs of Kyiv. There, according to official information, there are battles with Russian troops.

Already in the morning, at around 10 am, a series of explosions was heard, giving the impression that it was a bombardment. There is now a very nervous situation here, because people are afraid that the Russian troops will start firing rockets, as they do in Kharkov. It is already dangerous to leave Kyiv and even leave the home after yesterday's rocket attacks.

From Gesher Galicia member,

Please URGENTLY share and send this to anyone in Lviv, Kyiv, Kharkiv, and East Ukraine (and surrounding areas!!!) who can help us with transporting donations that are currently at the border! We're considering all transport: trains, vans, coaches, planes. We need the quickest, smoothest most safe way (for all involved) to transport supplies in the next couple days! Some people haven't had any new supplies since last Thursday so please get this out to high profile people so we can act quickly!


From Ukraine

Kyiv, 08:00 Kyiv time, [06:00 GMT, March 1]

Kyiv last night was far from calm. Every half an hour an air raid was announced, and several heavy missile strikes were carried out in the suburbs of Kyiv, on the eastern side. By the middle of the night, things had calmed down a little and the rest of the night passed quietly. This, though, is more disturbing, as it always seems that after the silence it will be even worse.

The situation is bad in Kharkiv, where yesterday they hit residential areas with multiple rocket launchers. My friends in that city called yesterday and said that the destruction there is quite terrible.

Kyiv, 18:45 Kyiv time, [16:45 GMT, March 1]

At the moment, phone calls are difficult in Kyiv, as the connections are very bad.

Kyiv, 19:05 Kyiv time, [17:05 GMT, March 1

Ukrainian forces have increased their rate of firing off rockets. Almost every half an hour there is an air raid alert. They say that the next troops are preparing to come from Belarus. It is extremely alarming, coming after the shelling of Kharkiv from rocket launchers, where many people died. Everyone is afraid that it could be in Kyiv next.

Today a Russian missile hit a TV tower in Kyiv. Another one exploded at the Babi Yar Holocaust Memorial, at the site of mass executions in 1941.

From Central State Archives of Ukraine in Lviv (TsDIAL):

Dear colleagues!

Thank you very much for your support, kind words and thoughts. All archive staff remain in place.

It is impossible to leave today. But the workers want to stay in Ukraine. We have a serious mission — to protect Ukraine, to protect the Archives and the historical heritage of the Ukrainian people.

Thank you again! Glory to Ukraine!


From Italy, Ukraine, and Poland

Email Received from a friend of Gesher Galicia in Italy

Hi all,

I just spoke with NAME REMOVED from Ivano Frankivsk. I know him because some years ago I went in Ivano Frankivsk to make a research on my family LUFT from that town.

I called it him because I had the program to go there with a van to bring what they need and eventually take some people out of Ukraine. Ivano Frankivsk is just 1600 km from my home.

They heard some explosions in town but the situation in the Jewish community is calm for the moment.

We want to help these people, as we want to help other Jews in need in Jewish Galicia in Ukraine.

Apparently the only way to help them is to send money to buy what they need. I gave to NAME REMOVED my availability to make a shipment if they need something.

And I renewal my availability to Gesher Galicia.

From Ukraine

Kyiv, 12:45 Kyiv time, [10:45 GMT, February 28]

Our pessimistic forecasts did not come true and the night passed relatively calmly. There were several air raid alerts, but no gunfire was heard. It was quiet in our area of the city, so I slept the best that I have since the start of the war. We are still sleeping in our clothes, though. I think that this pause may be connected with the start of negotiations, but we are afraid that if they do not produce a result, everything will begin again.

Today my wife and I left our building for the first time since Friday. We have a small market near us, and we were able to buy vegetables, meat and some cereals. As a result, we now even have a small stock of food. There are huge queues of people everywhere, because they arestill selling old goods, though the authorities have promised thatwhen they run out, the delivery of essential products will be arranged.

While we were standing in the market, a Russian missile was shot above us.


Message from Ukraine

I called Rabbi this morning. He does not speak English so my wife spoke with him in Hebrew. He thanked everyone here for their generosity and was thrilled to hear how successful our appeal has been and that they will get the much needed aid tomorrow

He said that since Thursday when there was an explosion in the airport of I-F things have been quiet there. Many people have left for Poland and there are many refugees passing through trying to get into Poland. We will stay in contact with him and we will keep track of how our aid is being used.

From a good friend of Gesher Galicia's:

Lviv, 13:30 Lviv time [11:30 GMT, February 27]

For now here in Lviv it is safe, but it's a real war and nobody knows what will happen in the next minutes, hours or days. In my life I've been in many Holocaust areas and every time I was thinking how could this happen, how could people kill another people just because they are different. I was thinking this was all in the past and will never happen again, and if someone said that it will happen in the middle of Europe in the present time I wouldn't have believed him. I think Putin is like Hitler, and the world should stop him before it's too late.

From in Ukraine:

Kyiv, 14:50 Kyiv time [12:50 GMT, February 27]

Last night passed relatively calmly. Sometimes there was gunfire and shelling. It all started in the morning, there was a serious air raid, which our air defense forces overcame.

Today the main battles are from the western direction - the area where we live. There were fierce battles in the suburbs until lunchtime and the Russian troops were prevented from entering, but they have a lot of forces and equipment that arrive constantly from Belarus.

Apparently today they will attempt to storm the city from the western side. According to the authorities, additional support troops are already moving from western Ukraine to defend Kyiv, but the question is whether they will arrive in time.

Kyiv, 21:00 Kyiv time [19:00 GMT, February 27]

Apparently tonight there will be an attempt to storm Kyiv. As our mayor said, Kyiv is surrounded. Everyone is getting ready. This night and morning will be decisive! [It will be a very difficult night for us.]


Here is a post-Shabbos summary of reports received by us from ourcontacts in Ukraine and Poland:

From Kyiv:

Kyiv, 08:15 Kyiv time [06:15 GMT

During the night, Russian troops attempted to storm Kyiv, landing troops at the military airfield in Vasilkov, about 20 kilometers to the south of Kyiv. The troops landing in Vasilkov were overpowered, as were those who had managed to enter Kyiv, including a group on Victory Avenue. This avenue is named after the victory against Nazism in World War II. There have always been huge traffic jams on this avenue and a black joke circulating in Kyiv has it that the attackers did not realize how serious the traffic jams there could be. There is information that sabotage groups remain in the city, and the police and the army are searching for them. On the left (eastern) densely populated bank of the river in Kyiv, there were volleys of gunfire all night involving attacking troops who apparently had arrived from Belarus. In the morning the situation was more or less calm, and my friends living in this district wrote that they even managed to get some sleep. We are now waiting anxiously for a second wave, expected again, as yesterday, at around 10-11 am.

Kyiv, 21:25 Kyiv time (19:25 GMT]

During the day things were relatively uneventful, at least in my part of the city. In the morning, though, a Russian missile hit a residential building near one of the airports in the city. Miraculously, no one was killed but there were many wounded. Also in the morning, there was heavy shelling from our own side and the air defense sirens were operating

Later in the day, there were just occasional shots heard in the distance. The Ukrainian army started to destroy bridges and roads around Kyiv to block the advance of Russian vehicles. By evening, there were reports that Ukrainian forces had regained control of the towns around Kyiv and had slightly pushed the attackers back from the city.

This evening, heavy shooting started on the left (east) bank of the Dnieper. Since Friday, all the bridges of Kyiv have been blocked by the army units that are guarding them. Friends living on the left bank say that from their side the loud sound of machine guns firing and shelling can be heard. It is possible that Russian troops are trying to break into the city from the other side.

The hunt for saboteurs has continued this evening throughout the city. Shootings are heard and residents are asked not to appear on the street, as there a curfew has been in force, as from 5 pm today. Anyone who violates the order to remain indoors will be considered a saboteur.

Tonight, we have decided to sleep in our clothes so that in case of heavy shelling we could get out of our apartment quickly and go down to the basement of our block. We have prepared things and each of us knows what to take and where to go.

From Lviv:

Dear Friends,

It's an extremely serious situation to say the least, but we hope and believe that with the help of our army, aid and support of friendly countries and maybe some miracle, we will win and survive this tragedy.

I will be happy to give you a free tour of the ruins of the kremlin.

With our very best wishes

From Lviv:

So far so good. I am OK.

Situation is difficult. Here in Lviv it is normal. However many refugees. Many bridges across Ukraine are blown. Deficit of cash money and some groceries.

Thank you for your support

Spoke with my friend living now in New Hampshire but spent 2 years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nadvirna (formerly Nadworna) Ukraine, and she said that she has been in touch with city government in Nadvirna and they are in desperate need of sleeping bags because they anticipate hundreds of refugees fleeing the East arriving in Nadvirna which is in the Ivano-Frankivsk oblast.

From Poland:

As the situation unfolds in Ukraine, here in Poland we are in full mobilization to ensure help to all the Ukrainians arriving in our country. All the border crossing points with Ukraine have been opened to let in all the people fleeing war. This movement is taking place smoothly with only minor delays on the Ukrainian side caused by cyberattacks on their systems.

At the same time, medical supplies in huge amounts are delivered to Medyka to be transferred to the Ukrainian side. Hospitals in Eastern Poland are preparing to receive wounded Ukrainian soldiers. Trains flow to Przemysl from Lviv with thousands of people. The Przemysl train station, which we know very well from our trips there, is now the main entry hub for the Ukrainians. One of my friends went there from Warsaw to help on the spot. He says that the vast majority of people crossing the border know where they would like to go while the rest needs basic assistance and accommodation. All the Ukrainians entering Poland are allowed to travel on InterCity trains for free in the next four weeks. They are offered necessary help and the process seems to be very well organised. The first trains with them arrived in Eastern Railway station in Warsaw, not far from where I live.

…Poland would do whatever possible to help the Ukrainians. The Polish border is also used to send weapons to Ukraine, and the Polish government does not hide that fact. Convoys with all sort of weaponry pour into Ukraine every day after the Americans based near Przemysl stopped to fly to Ukraine.

On the one hand, every day we await successes in the Ukrainian resistance, on the other hand every successive day of warfare brings casualties and suffering.

Men are not allowed to leave Ukraine at the moment, so most people fleeing the country are women and children. If you think that any of our friends or their family members in Ukraine would need assistance in Poland, we could help find accommodation and support in Warsaw. With my friends we are ready to provide help.

Galicia is at war again. What a nightmare!

Best wishes to all

About These Messages

News from People Impacted By the War in Ukraine

The messages here are from a network of people involved in Gesher Galicia. We are helping get their messages out so that there is a record of what individual Ukrainians are experiencing.

Gesher Galicia is a non-profit organization carrying out Jewish genealogical and historical research on Galicia, formerly a province of Austria-Hungary and today divided between southeastern Poland and western Ukraine. The research work includes the indexing of archival vital records and census books, Holocaust-period records, Josephine and Franciscan cadastral surveys, lists of Jewish taxpayers, and records of Galician medical students and doctors - all added to our searchable online database. In addition, we reproduce regional and cadastral maps for our online Map Room. We conduct educational research and publish a quarterly research journal, the Galitzianer. Gesher Galicia is also organized for the purpose of maintaining networking and online discussion groups and to promote and support Jewish heritage preservation work in the areas of the former Galicia.

FedInvent hasn’t edited the posts. We removed the names to protect the privacy of the writers. We’ll update this page as the news comes in.