PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Emanuel Schechter told Ynet reporters a story reminiscent of the days when the Nazi occupied Ukraine on 1941. His story has gone viral.
Amid political turmoil, a few masked men waited outside of Bet Menakhem-Mendl synagogue in the eastern Ukranian city of Donetsk. With tensions boiling in the streets, going to the synagogue that Sunday was an act of courage.
The men wearing balaclava masks waited for Passover eve prayer to end and as people walked out, they distributed about a dozen copies of a fake government order that nearly a week later has enraged people as far as Miami Beach.
"I could not believe it. My friend sent it to me this morning," Natalia Carrasco said Friday after getting a copy of the flier Schechter shared. "I'm not Jewish and I am enraged. I want to go to this city and protest."
Greater Miami Jewish Federation President Jacob Solomon was monitoring the situation. The organization released a statement adding that they are involved in the effort to send humanitarian assistance to thousands of impoverished Jewish elderly and at-risk children in Ukraine.
Partner agencies "ascertained that the flyers have originated neither from the Ukrainian government nor from Donetsk's pro-Russian separatists led by Denis Pushilin, whose name appeared on the flyers," Solomon said.
The flier -- which has been shared on the web from Israel to Argentina -- said the order to register was in retribution for the Jewish community's support of Ukrainian independence during World War II.
Pro-Russian militants took control of the city Saturday in an uprising that protests alleged antisemitism out of Kiev. That this very uprising would issue an order asking Jews to register did not make sense to those familiar with politics in Ukraine.
A representative of the temporary pro-Russian government told the New York times the flier was not an official order. But some of the stories circulating on the web did not say that.
Joshua Verde, of Pinecrest, said that when his cousin in Augsburg, Germany sent him the story Thursday. He cried.
"I don't understand how something like this could be happening," said Verde, an Argentine living in Miami. "Our families have suffered for generations to prevent something like this."
The flier, which had a governmental seal, was addressed to "Ukraine citizens of Jewish nationality," who were 16-years-old and over, and who were of Jewish descent. It asked that the Jews report to room 514 in the Donetsk Regional Administration building.
The leaflet also said Jews had to pay a registration fee and provide a list of the property they own. Those who failed to register, the leaflet warned, faced confiscation of their property, deportation, and their citizenship could be revoked.
In Geneva, Secretary of State John Kerry said the message was intolerable. On Thursday, diplomats announced a plan to deal with political unrest in Ukraine. But pro-Russian separatists said they will ignore it.
And as far as the alleged masked men, Kaminezki said that "everything must be done to catch them."