With Ukrainian authorities investigating a series of blasts that rocked the Dnepropetrovsk’s downtown district Friday and injured upwards of 27 people, Jewish officials in the country’s fourth-largest city have reported that by all indications, their institutions did not appear to be targeted.

According to reports, at least four bombs exploded just before noon at several mass-transit stations and a movie theater. State officials quickly blamed the attacks, which injured at least nine children, on terrorists.

Rabbi Yerachmiel Goldshmid, one of several Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries working in the city under the direction of Chief Rabbi Shmuel Kaminezki, said that the Jewish community – one of the largest in Eastern Europe – was fine, but shaken up.

“One of the explosions was 500 meters from the shul,” he said, in reference to the historic Golden Rose Synagogue, an ornate 150-year-old structure in back of which construction crews are building the future Menorah Community Center, expected to be the largest Jewish community center in the world.

“These attacks were not against the Jewish community,” added Goldshmid. “We’re still waiting on more details, and are keeping all of the victims in our prayers.”

Rabbi Dovber Baitman, a teacher at the Ohr Avner-Levi Yitzchak Schneerson Day School, said that he heard of between six and seven explosions downtown.

Ukrainian President Viktor F. Yanukovich speaks to reporters in the Crimea after Friday’s explosions in Dnepropetrovsk. (Photo: Government of Ukraine)
Ukrainian President Viktor F. Yanukovich speaks to reporters in the Crimea after Friday’s explosions in Dnepropetrovsk. (Photo: Government of Ukraine)

Just hours before the onset of the Jewish Sabbath, he said that the school was on lockdown and the administration was waiting to release students in the care of police escorts home.

“The kids are very frightened,” said Baitman. “But our staff psychologist spoke with them, and they seem okay. Children have spoken with their parents.”

Interior Minister Vitaly Zakharchenko ordered police and troops throughout Ukrainian cities to be placed on alert, and the General Prosecutor’s Office opened a terrorism investigation.

Ukrainian President Viktor F. Yanukovich, who earlier issued emergency orders freeing up medical aid and authorizing a broad swath of investigative powers, addressed the nation and acknowledged that “this is yet another challenge to us, to the whole country.”

“We will think about how we respond with dignity,” he said.