After a summer of sheltering in bunkers near their homes or taking refuge in towns that they have been displaced to, thousands of Jewish schoolchildren from Ukraine returned to school on Sept. 1 at the network of hundreds of schools maintained by Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries in the war-torn nation and throughout the former Soviet Union.

The schools serve as a critical support system for the students and their families, many of whom come from underprivileged backgrounds.

Recognizing the need for the children to return to school for their physical and mental well-being, as well as their educational needs, Chabad emissaries throughout Ukraine working with the Jewish Relief Network Ukraine (JRNU)—Chabad’s unified effort for humanitarian work for those in need because of the war—were determined to open the doors last week of as many schools as possible.

Many of these educational institutions have been closed since the war began in February, and many have not yet been able to open.

The Ukrainian government mandated that all schools have accessible bomb shelters. Chabad and JRNU have worked to transform the ominous shelters into colorful and welcoming classrooms and play areas to avoid further traumatizing the children.

Children traditionally bring flowers for teachers on the first day of school, Sept. 1, 2022. Credit: Chabad-Lubavitch of Ukraine/JRNU.

Schools in Kyiv, Odessa, Zhytomyr, Vinnytsia, Bila Tserkva, Chernivtsi, Kamianske, Kryvyi Rih and Cherkasy, among others, opened in person, while others are planning (and some still struggling) to open soon. Where schools are still shuttered, students attend online classes.

A first-person account of the first day of school in Ukraine by Chabad-Lubavitch emissary Devorah Levenhats can be found here.

Reprinted with permission from

Bomb shelters are being made as pleasant as possible when serving as schoolrooms, Sept. 1, 2022. Credit: Chabad-Lubavitch of Ukraine/JRNU.
Chabad schools in Ukraine serve children from pre-school through high school, Sept. 1, 2022. Credit: Chabad-Lubavitch of Ukraine/JRNU.
The first day of school has traditionally been met with celebrations in Ukraine, Sept. 1, 2022. Credit: Chabad-Lubavitch of Ukraine/JRNU.


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