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The President of Israel added the last letter to the wartime Torah for Ukrainian Jews initiated by Volodymyr Zelenskyy

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KIEV, Ukraine(JTA)– More than two years after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wrote his first letter, his Israeli counterpart Yitzhak Herzog signed the final letters of a Torah scroll dedicated to peace in both their countries.

This Torah was initiated in Ukraine shortly after Russia’s invasion in 2022 and concluded this week in Israel, which is currently engaged in its own war in Gaza. On the way to completion, the letters were written by Jews serving in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, members of the Jewish community in Kyiv, families of fallen Israeli soldiers, and relatives of Israelis kidnapped in Gaza, among others.

The writing of the Torah, which will soon be returned to Ukraine and placed in a synagogue in the country’s capital, was initiated by the Chief Rabbi of Kyiv, Yonatan Markowitz.

“Both Jewish presidents wrote letters in the Sefer Torah dedicated for the sake of peace and unity (achdut) in Am Yisrael, which will be placed in the Great Synagogue of Kyiv, the Jewish Cultural Center, and Beit Menahem,” Chabad Rabbi said in a statement, referring to Zelensky and Herzog, who are the only Jewish heads of state in the world.

Zelensky wrote the first letter of the Sefer Torah “in his office in the presidential bunker in Kyiv,” and Herzog wrote the last letter during a ceremony held at his official residence in Jerusalem, according to Markowitz.

“The integration of efforts between the Jews of Israel and the Jewish community in Ukraine constitutes a powerful force multiplier for the survival and continued existence of the Jewish people,” Herzog said during the event. “There is nothing more moving than to be a part of writing a Sefer Torah that symbolizes this special unity, especially now.”

The ceremony was attended by relatives of Zina Beilin, a 60-year-old Israeli woman of Ukrainian descent who was murdered on October 7 in Sderot along with a dozen other elderly people during a bus tour to the Dead Sea organized by her. The images of their bodies were some of the first to show the bloody events of that day.

Also at the Israeli president’s residence, Markowitz spoke about the “history of Jewish heroism and resilience” shared by “the Jews of Israel and Ukraine” and thanked Jews from Israel and around the world for their assistance to the Jewish community in Ukraine.

“When we began writing the Sefer Torah, we did not think that we would reach a situation where our brothers, the people of Israel in the Holy Land, would also be threatened by a brutal war,” Markowitz said.

The Torah, which is mentioned in the news, is the Holy Scripture of Judaism, consisting of the five books of Moses. This text is fundamental to the Jewish religion and culture, and its handwritten copying and use in religious rituals have deep symbolic meaning, especially when it is dedicated to such a significant goal as peace and unity.

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