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Local rabbi from Russia calls for kindness amid Ukraine invasion

Posted at 7:01 PM, Feb 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-25 20:01:41-05

MILWAUKEE — A Russian-born rabbi living in the Milwaukee area says there is no winning in the Ukraine invasion — only suffering for everyone involved.

Rabbi Yaakov Elman, of the Chabad-Lubavitch of Wisconsin, moved to the United States nearly 40 years ago.

“[Because of] the desire to live in the free world and to practice what I believe in ... as a Jew and as a human being,” said Elman.

While living in what was then Leningrad (today St. Petersburg) in the former Soviet Union, he said he never could've imagined the fighting taking place today in Ukraine.

“If you take DNA of Russian and Ukrainian, it’s the same," said Elam. "Brothers killing brothers.”

He remembers going to school in Leningrad where Ukrainians spoke Russian as a first language. And he said, it was the other way around for many people living in Ukraine.

“It’s [Russian invasion] basically to me, it’s like New York would attack Vermont," said Elman. "To me it’s so senseless.”

America is the rabbi’s home, and after 40 years, he's far more familiar with this country than the one in which he was born.

To know why Putin is doing what he's doing, Elman said, you'd have to ask the Russian leader.

His main advice right now, to everyone, everywhere, is this:

“If we become a little bit kinder to each other, even in America, eventually it affects what’s happening on the other part of the globe," said Elman.

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