Ukraine's Jewish Community

(Economist-UK) Last year, Kharkiv's Jewish school was damaged in a Russian attack; the community's nearby yeshiva, or religious college, suffered a direct hit. "Our schools aren't able to function because rockets are hitting them," says Miriam Moskovitz, director of the school. Before the Second World War, Jews were a large minority in Ukraine; 1.5 million Jews perished in the Holocaust. Tens of thousands of Ukrainian auxiliaries helped the Germans commit this crime, though more than 7 million fought the Nazis as troops in the Red Army. National heroes of Ukraine like Bohdan Khmelnytsky, a 17th-century Cossack commander, are remembered by Jews as responsible for the deaths of thousands. Today many Ukrainians revere Stepan Bandera, whose followers were responsible for the murder of Poles and Jews. In the past Ukrainians often blamed Jews for everything, including the hardships of communism. Now, says analyst Yevhen Hlibovytsky, anti-Semitism is fading. "The generation of those who grew up in the Soviet Union reflected a lot of the anti-Semitism that the Soviet Union practiced. My generation is much freer of that and the generation of my children treats ethnic and religious diversity as normal." The Pew Research Center has found that Ukrainians are among the least anti-Semitic people in Europe. For decades after the Second World War, most Jews in Ukraine spoke Russian and identified as Soviet Jews. Now, those that remain identify as Ukrainian Jews. Jewish prayer books are being translated into Ukrainian for the first time.

2023-09-21 00:00:00

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