Herzog meets the Ukrainian community

October 7, 2021 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Israel’s President Isaac Herzog has met members of the Ukrainian Jewish communities.

President Herzog addresses the event Photo: Haim Zac

During the meeting, the participants marked the official establishment of KKL-JNF Ukraine.

Israeli Ambassador Michael Brodsky, Construction and Housing Minister (and government liaison to Ukraine) Zeev Elkin, Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center Chairman Natan Sharansky, World Zionist Organization Chairman and Jewish Agency Acting Chairman Yaakov Hagoel, KKL-JNF Deputy Chairman Arnan Palman, and Members of Knesset Moshe Arbel, Michael Michaeli, and Evgeny Sova also participated in the event.

President Herzog, on his first state visit, said: “Here, on this soil, were born and lived several of our nation’s giants. So much so that sometimes it seems that there is no other country in the world whose sons and daughters have had such a compelling influence on the history of the Jewish People in the modern era. Here flourished some of the most important figures in Hasidic history; here flourished titans of Hebrew literature and the Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment) movement; and even to our political leadership, members of the Ukrainian Jewish community have contributed.

“Today, I am delighted to see and hear that the Jewish community in Ukraine is a model of vitality and diversity, operating with an impressive level of coordination between its organizations, denominations, and communal leaders.”

President Herzog addressed the atrocities suffered by Ukrainian Jewry and said: “We all welcome and rejoice in the good relations between Israel and Ukraine. Nevertheless, nobody may distort or obscure the facts of history. In 1941, there were 2.4 million Jews in Ukraine. Over 1.5 million of them were murdered by the Germans and their accomplices, among them members of the local population. The blood of our brethren is crying out to us from the soil—do not forget us! Eighty years ago, on the eve of Yom Kippur, Babi Yar became a terrible scar across human morality. In every generation, we must see ourselves as if we were personally there.

“When, in just a few hours, I shall stand by the mass grave that still whispers names and faces, I shall be conscious of something that all of us know: these could have been my parents, my grandfather, my grandmother. Any of the murdered victims’ descendants might have stood in my place.”

President Herzog stressed the importance of the connection between Israel and the Jewish Diaspora and said: “I know that I speak on behalf of myself and senior minister Zeev Elkin, the chairman of the Israeli side of the Israel-Ukraine intergovernmental committee, and Members of Knesset Moshe Arbel, Michael Michaeli, and Evgeny Sova, the heads of the Israel-Ukraine parliamentary friendship group, when I emphasize the importance that the State of Israel attaches to all Jewish communities.

President Herzog concluded his remarks by congratulating KKL-JNF on beginning operations in Ukraine and said: “This represents a special form of closure. After all, the Odessa Committee began purchasing land in the Land of Israel and establishing moshavot long before the establishment of the Jewish National Fund. In Odessa were sown the seeds of the Jewish National Fund, the seeds of Zionism. The wellbeing of the Jewish community, of any Jewish community, is connected by a thread to the wellbeing of the State of Israel. Thank you to all of you, who act on behalf of your community, faithfully tending to your community’s needs. May God reward you and send you blessings and success in all you do. I wish you every success!”

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