Praying for Ukraine: Messianic Jewish Spiritual Landscape

Ukraine has one of the largest Jewish communities in Europe and also has the largest Messianic synagogue congregation in the world

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By The Rev. Dr. Joyce Miriam Brooks
CMJ USA contributor

As I step back and look at the spiritual landscape in which Russia's invasion of Ukraine is taking place, I am struck by three sets of facts regarding the Jewish people that may influence your prayers:

  • Ukraine has a large Jewish community, including thousands of Jewish believers in Yeshua (Jesus).
  • Messianic Jewish communities in Poland were decimated in World War II.
  • This invasion is taking place when the Jewish calendar remembers Purim.

All of these point to Russia's invasion as being a physical manifestation of a spiritual attack on the Jewish people, including Jewish believers in Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah.

Ukraine has a large Jewish community

Ukraine has one of the largest Jewish communities in Europe. According to a 2020 demographic study, 43,000 people living in Ukraine identified as Jews. However, estimates of the number of people of Jewish ancestry and thus eligible for Israeli citizenship is between 200,000 and 400,000.1

The largest Messianic synagogue in the world is in Kyiv. Kyiv Jewish Messianic Congregation has over 2,000 congregants, comprised of both Jews and Gentiles.2 Another Messianic synagogue in Odessa, Ukraine has over 400 attendees.3

ukraine on the map

Messianic Jewish communities were decimated in WWII

As far back as the 1560's, the largest Jewish community in Europe was in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth,4 and by 1818, Warsaw was "the center of Jewish life in Eastern Europe."5 What many don't realize, however, is that there were thriving Messianic Jewish congregations in Poland at the beginning of World War II, and that Hitler targeted Christians of Jewish descent as well as those who identified as Jewish.

In August 1939, there were at least 120 adult congregants in the Hebrew Christian congregation called Emmanuel Church, Warsaw. Nearly all were killed by the Nazis.6 In the Bethel Mission in Lodz, Poland, 300 Jewish believers in Jesus were murdered during the Holocaust.7

The same happened to Christians of Jewish descent. Historian Kelvin Crombie reports that "there were about 5,200 Jewish Christians in the Warsaw Ghetto, most of whom were Jewish Catholics and the vast majority perished either in the Ghetto or in Treblinka."8

The Russian invasion and Purim

This Russian invasion of Ukraine is taking place when the Jewish calendar observes Purim, the annual Jewish remembrance of when Haman tried to destroy the Jewish people during the reign of King Ahasuerus ca. 474 B.C.E. The Old Testament book of Esther records Haman's plot and how God used Queen Esther to intervene and foil Haman's attack.

Purim always takes place during the Jewish month of Adar. However, this year there are two months of Adar. This is because there is a leap year in the Jewish calendar about every three years, to align the lunar months with the solar year.9 As I write this, it is the 25th day of Adar I in the Jewish year of 5782. Adar II begins Friday, March 4, 2022. There was a "Little Purim" during this first month of Adar, on February 15. The big Purim celebration will take place during Adar II on March 17 and 18.

Image: "Ahasuerus, Haman and Esther" by Rembrandt

Ahasuerus, Haman and Esther by Rembrandt

Tying It All Together: What Does This Mean?

God commissioned the Hebrew people to be missionaries at Mount Sinai (Ex 19:6) and that commission has never been rescinded (Rom 11:28-29). There will come a time when they will fulfill their commission to be witnesses to the rest of the nations in the world (cf., Is 60:1-3, Zech 8:20-23, Rom 11:15).

Jesus' second coming is tied to the widespread repentance of the Jewish people and their acceptance of him as the Messiah.10 11 Paul quoted from Isaiah 59:20-21 and 27:9 when he asserted that the Jewish people would repent (Rom 11:26-27, cf. Rom 11:13-15, 30-31). The Prophets also spoke of a time when the Jewish people would accept Yeshua as Messiah (Ez 37:12-17, Zech 12:10, 13:1). Yeshua spoke of a time when the Jewish people would welcome him as Messiah (Matt. 23:37-39). And Jeremiah prophesied that the Jewish people would be saved when the Messiah reigns (Jer. 23:5-6).

For millennia, Satan's plot has been to foil God's plan of salvation by destroying the Jewish people. It is no accident that the attack on Ukraine, with its large Jewish population, is taking place during a year when the Jewish people remember--twice--Haman's attempt to annihilate them. The murder of six million Jews during the Holocaust was another manifestation of Satan's intentional attempt to destroy the Jewish people.

And, because the repentance of the Jewish people is key to the evangelism of the nations and the Messiah's return, the evil one has a special hatred for Jewish believers in Jesus. So, while there may be a number of geopolitical reasons for Russia to attack Ukraine, from a spiritual perspective, it is also no accident that the country--and city--where the largest Messianic synagogue in the world exists is in Satan's target. We have seen this before, when, during World War II, thriving Messianic congregations in Poland were decimated.

How Can This Inform Our Prayers?

My hope is that this quick survey of what I see taking place in the spiritual realm will inform your prayers. Here are some suggestions of how you might pray.

Pray that God would give all believers in Jesus in Ukraine, both Jewish and Gentile, wisdom and protection. Pray that God would give them courage and joy while under attack. Pray that they would be bold witnesses for God's kingdom. Pray that God would provide for them abundantly. (Ukraine is also one of the most Christian nations in Europe.12)

Pray for Volodymyr Zelensky, President of Ukraine. He is Jewish and a former comedian. Thank God that Zelensky has been a courageous leader of his country during this time. Pray for his protection. Pray that God would give him wisdom. Pray that Yeshua would reveal Himself to Zelensky and that he would accept Yeshua as Messiah and Lord.

Pray that God would protect the Jewish people in Ukraine and that through this traumatic experience they would come to recognize Yeshua as Messiah. Pray that, just as the scales fell from the eyes of Paul after Yeshua appeared to him on the Road to Damascus, so the scales will fall from the eyes of Jews around the world so that they recognize Yeshua as Messiah and receive Him as Lord.

Pray that God would foil the plans of Satan. Pray that God would decimate Putin's plans. Pray that God would bless Putin by leading him to a true understanding of who Jesus is and giving him the grace to repent and believe. Pray that the Russian army would be defeated.

Pray that God would be glorified.

The Rev. Dr. Joyce Miriam Brooks is an Anglican priest of Jewish descent. She is the founding pastor of Beth Messiah Anglican Congregation, a place where Jews who believe that Yeshua (Jesus) is the Messiah can embrace their Jewish identity by worshiping in a liturgical setting which recognizes the Jewish roots of the Gospel. Article reposted with author's permission. H/T to David Virtue of


  1. Gabe Friedman, "Who are Ukraine's Jews and How is the Invasion Impacting Them?", The Forward (accessed 26 February 2022).
  2. Kiev Jewish Messianic Congregation website, About us - КЕМО КИЕВ | KEMOKIEV (accessed 26 February 2022).
  3. Jewish Partner Initiative, Who we are, (accessed 26 February 2022).
  4. Kelvin Crombie, Bazyli & Anna Jocz: Jewish Christian Victims of the Holocaust (Perth, Australia: Heritage Resources, 2020), 16.
  5. Crombie, 23.
  6. Crombie, 205.
  7. Crombie, 209.
  8. Crombie, 211.
  9. "The Hebrew Month of Adar (& AdarII)," The Hebrew Month of Adar (& Adar II) - Jewish Calendar, (accessed 26 February 2022)
  10. Don Finto, Your People Shall Be My People (Ventura, CA: Regal, 2001), 73.
  11. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah: A Study of the Sequence of Prophetic Events, rev. ed. (San Antonio, TX: Ariel Ministries, 2003, 2004), 307.
  12. Joel Rosenberg, "3 things every Christian should know about Putin, Ukraine - Opinion", The Jerusalem Post (accessed 26 February 2022).

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Article published on 03/02/2022