An Ottawa family builds bridges between Ukrainians and Jews—now, more than ever

Alti Rodal, holding the sign on the left, is the co-founder of Ukrainian Jewish Encounter. (Supplied photo)

Of the 200 people protesting across the street from the Russian embassy in Ottawa on Sunday, most held up signs coloured yellow and blue, in solidarity with Ukraine. But there was one sign in black and white with a menorah on it and the words “Let Ukraine live. We are family. Canada’s Jews.”

Holding the sign was Alti Rodal, a historian and the daughter of Holocaust suvivors. She was born in Chernowitz, Ukraine, but has lived in Ottawa for many years. She and her husband co-founded a group called Ukrainian Jewish Encounter in 2007, wanting to bridge the longstanding distrust between Jews and Ukrainians that dates back to the Second World War, when Ukrainians were slapped with a reputation of being the worst Nazi collaborators in all of Europe.

All their hard work is in jeopardy now. As Russia wages its war in the country, it breaks Rodal’s heart to know that all the museum exhibits, conferences, school tours and especially the restoration projects of Jewish cemeteries that she’s been leading in Ukraine are at risk—especially because, as she tells The CJN Daily, nearly every Ashkenazi Jew in the world originally came from Ukraine.

What we talked about:


The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Victoria Redden is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. Our title sponsor is Metropia. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network; find more great Jewish podcasts at