On February 24, 2022, early in the morning, somewhere around 05:30 Kyiv time, I was studying Kabbalah, and suddenly I heard explosions not far from the house where I live. I understood everything at once.
While people are sleeping and there are no traffic jams, I must wake everyone up, pack my things and quickly leave the city — before the traffic and panic of a city under rocket fire and bombing.
We went to visit relatives who live 120 km from Kyiv in a village near Belaya Tserkov. They have a farm and everything they need for an autonomous life. We are now monitoring the situation here.
In 2014, Ukraine unequivocally chose the path to the European Union and NATO. In 2014, I learned what a war with Russia is. Despite the fact that we have many connections — I have close relatives in Moscow and St. Petersburg — a war broke out that ideologically divided peoples and even families.
Yes, it was in 2014 that the war of Russia against Ukraine began, with the seizure of Crimea and the occupation of Donbass. Vladimir Putin wants to expand his empire and take revenge on the entire Western and democratic world for the collapse of the USSR.
Ukraine is the most important element in Putin's new empire. This is the historical homeland of the Russian Empire, Russian Orthodoxy. Everything that can create ideological bonds to unite such disparate peoples of Russia today.
Even the name Russia itself comes from the River Ros, which flows near Kyiv in Ukraine. Kievan Rus is the place where the whole myth about Russian history was born. Even Christianity in Russia was born from the Kyiv Prince Vladimir in the 9th century, when he brought it from Byzantium.
Putin understands that he needs some kind of ideological and spiritual basis to consolidate his power.
That is why he has been at war with Ukraine for 8 years — trying to keep it out of the Western world. As he correctly understands, Ukraine will completely tear itself away from him in political, economic, military and spiritual terms.
New Confrontation Phase
We have been living in a state of stress for a long time. Ever since the beginning of November, when I was on vacation in Venice at the Architectural Biennale, for the first time I read the news that Russia was gathering its troops to the border of Ukraine and that a new round of confrontation was possible.
I didn't feel anything new. Russia has done this many times.
But the tension gradually increased. U.S. intelligence reports began to emerge that Russia was preparing invasions. I honestly didn't believe it. The media sounded the alarm. “The Russians will attack tomorrow.” I did not believe. “The Russians will attack Christmas.” I did not believe so many times.
The last time Biden officially said that according to U.S. data, Russia will make a full-scale invasion … on November 15-16. My wife grew very nervous and we decided to leave — to the west of the country, to the Carpathian Mountains.
I booked and paid for the mountain house through Airbnb and off we went. Spent a few days there. My wife had a nervous breakdown from constant stress and escalation of the situation in the media. I realized that I needed to take her to the doctor back to Kyiv. Moreover, at that moment nothing happened and everything was calm. We returned to Kyiv. Everything is fine.
Jewish Idea and Ukraine
The sages of Kabbalah tell us that the Jewish people from Abraham to Moshe formed around the idea of uniting according to the principle “Love your neighbor as yourself” into one group, into one vessel, in the language of Kabbalah, a vessel that can be a place of filling with Divinity … the presence of the Creator. It was this condition — unification, mutual guarantee that became the main condition for receiving the Torah on Mount Sinai — where all the people accepted this condition of mutual guarantee and said as one person: "Let us do it and we will hear it." This actually laid the foundation for a new network society, with the highest level of connection within itself, in which the whole nation found contact with the Higher Power with the Creator.
Since then there have been many contacts between the Jewish people and the peoples of the world. Contacts who created the prerequisite for the transfer of this idea to the whole world. Through Christianity at one stage, through Islam at another, and through the comprehensive cultural contacts of the Jews with the peoples of the world.
In a historical perspective, Ukraine is the birthplace of almost all Eastern European Jewry. It was here that the first Jews appeared in the first centuries of our era, a whole people — the Khazars — adopted Judaism as the state religion, which was the main one here before the adoption of Christianity. It was here that Hasidism was born.
I am sure that such close ties between Ukrainians and Jews have left special informational genes within the people — Reshimot. Yes, this connection was very complex and was also expressed in brutal pogroms, but this connection also left in the Ukrainian code a special ability to build that same network society — a society of mutual support and connection that we know from the time of Abraham, the exodus of the Jews from Egypt, society that built the ancient kingdom of Israel, the Jewish shtetl society in Ukraine and finally the community of Modern Israel.
The ability of Ukrainians to build solidarity ties, mutual support and the ability to self-organize were especially pronounced during the Maidans — actions of civil resistance to totalitarianism that were in fact the deepest expression of popular unity.
It is this idea — popular initiative, solidarity ties and self-organization — that is the main ideological enemy of Putin's totalitarianism. The totalitarian hierarchy cannot accept a network democratic society. For him, it will be a complete collapse of the entire coordinate system.
Putin vs. Purim
It is symbolic that an open war between Putin's Russia and free Ukraine — a war between the world of deceit, totalitarianism, inhumanity and the world of democracy, a society where human life is valued — that this war began just on the eve of the Purim holiday.
From the history of the holiday, we know what danger the people of Israel faced in the confrontation with the villain Haman, who wanted to completely destroy the entire people of Israel without exception.
In the same way, Putin, in all his declarations, says that the Ukrainian people have no right to exist in their state and aims at the complete destruction of the entire national consciousness of this people. That is why today the Russians are bombing cities and residential areas, aiming at residential buildings, shooting down cars with civilians. To break the people psychologically and suppress the ability to resist.
President Volodymyr Zeleensky is a Jew, and the Putin-Zelensky confrontation, which the whole world is watching today, is becoming an almost biblical confrontation between good and evil.
Just yesterday, a Russian missile hit the Babi Yar memorial complex, where 200,000 Jews died during the Second World War. A family of Jews, there to honor the memory of those killed during the Holocaust, died. Putin repeats history again! But victory is near.
Why Ukraine Will Win?
Because the law of communication and unification of people is the main law of all living things — the law on which the Jewish people rest for millennia.
I felt this feeling many times in Israel when I volunteered there. I felt it in Detroit when I visited the Jewish community and Baker’s Keyboard Lounge. I always feel it in Ukraine when I see how people unite in the face of danger and are ready to invest time and money, heart and soul, in pursuit of victory.
We have had this many times.
Back in 2014, when Russia attacked us for the first time, President Yanukovych plundered the country's budget and fled to Russia. Our army, at the moment of danger, literally gathered volunteers. People went to war as volunteers — they formed entire battalions of volunteers who fought heroically, collected food for the soldiers, brought uniforms, refueled cars, gave away their vehicles.
Volunteering and self-organization are well known to us, but this is practically non-existent in Russia, where a rigid hierarchy and a regime based on fear are the main instruments of organization.
That is why Ukrainians cannot be defeated, because Ukraine today is a network society. Even if the president announces surrender — the Russians say they are preparing such a scenario using deep fake technology — nothing will change. After all, we are fighting for our idea of ourselves, and not thanks to our rulers.
We unite, we fight and we win. As it was in the story of Purim.
Vlad Goldakovskiy is an architect, artist and founder of Goldakovskiy Group Architects.