Ukraine's Chief Rabbi Advocates National Government

Uniting Ukraine Committee Hopes To Resolve Recent Political Unrest

By JTA

Published December 16, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Ukraine’s chief rabbi is advocating the formation of a national unity government to resolve the country’s political crisis over its relationship with the European Union and Russia.

U.S.-born Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich, head of the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine, told JTA on Monday that he was reaching out to opposition and government representatives in favor of unity within the framework of his involvement with the Uniting Ukraine committee — a forum for dialogue in civil society.

The committee was convened last week by Leonid Makarovych Kravchuk, the country’s first president after it gained independence from the former Soviet Union. Kravchuk invited Bleich to attend the forum, which includes senior government and opposition figures.

The forum seeks to ease the tensions that flared up last month after President Viktor Yanukovych suspended preparations for signing a European Union association agreement that would have eased the import of European products to Ukraine and set the stage for the relaxing of travel restrictions. Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian citizens have taken to the streets of Kiev in rallies that at times have turned into violent clashes with police.

Russia, which supplies 60 percent of Ukraine’s gas, has worked aggressively to derail the deal by imposing painful trade sanctions and threatening Ukraine with giant gas bills.

“If it is so important for Ukraine to enter the European Union, let the opposition come into government and discuss ways to deal with the Russian threat regarding the gas supply and closing the border for Ukrainian exports if Ukraine moves toward euro integration,” Bleich told JTA. “It is necessary for Ukrainians to pool their resources to avoid bankruptcy.”

Ukrainian Jewish leaders appeared split on the protests.

Rabbi Moshe Azman, Chabad’s chief rabbi in Ukraine, told JTA the protests are “dangerous for the Jewish community.” They are described as a legitimate and peaceful expression of the “desire of the vast majority of the Ukrainian society to […] integrate into the European civilization” by Joseph Zissels and Meylakh Sheykhet of the Ukraine Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities, and the Union of Councils for the Jews in the Former Soviet Union, respectively.

Oleksandr Feldman, a Jewish lawmaker and president of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, said that while the Jewish community must remain neutral, its members largely support euro integration.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • The eggplant is beloved in Israel. So why do Americans keep giving it a bad rap? With this new recipe, Vered Guttman sets out to defend the honor of her favorite vegetable.
  • “KlezKamp has always been a crazy quilt of gay and straight, religious and nonreligious, Jewish and gentile.” Why is the klezmer festival shutting down now?
  • “You can plagiarize the Bible, can’t you?” Jill Sobule says when asked how she went about writing the lyrics for a new 'Yentl' adaptation. “A couple of the songs I completely stole." Share this with the theater-lovers in your life!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.