On Monday, November 11, a 25-member delegation of the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine (JCU) led by its President Boris Lozhkin met with the Speaker of the Knesset, Yuli Edelstein.
JCU President Lozhkin said the Confederation supports Israel's initiatives on a wide range of issues and hopes to continue to strengthen cooperation and relations between Israel and Jewish communities of Ukraine, as well as Jewish communities from other countries.
Lozhkin spoke about the success of the First Kiev Jewish Forum held earlier this year, which brought more than 500 participants together from around the world, and invited Edelstein to be a keynote speaker at the Forum's next meeting. The Forum positions itself as an international platform for the discussion of problems of world Jewry.
At the meeting, JCU President Lozhkin pointed out that the Confederation pays special attention to combating anti-Semitism in Ukraine, provides assistance to the nation's Jewish communities, and runs a variety of educational programs and social projects. In addition, JCU has been working with a number of local governments on renaming streets in Ukrainian cities in honor of the Righteous among the Nations who saved Jewish lives during the Holocaust.
The Speaker of the Knesset said that relations between Ukraine and Israel are actively developing, although recognition of dubious historical figures as national heroes cannot have a positive impact on the relationship. He added that Israel expects Ukrainian government to systematically investigate all reported incidents of anti-Semitism and react to them accordingly.
Yuli Edelstein, a native of Chernovtsy in Ukraine, fought for many years for the right to repatriate to Israel from the former USSR, was arrested by the KGB, and spent three years in the Soviet prison. After moving to Israel, he launched a career as a public and political figure, devoting his energies to the repatriation policy.
In recognition of his achievements, the Ukrainian delegation awarded Yuli Edelstein with an honorary medal of the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine – A Thousand Hearts – made specially for the 100th anniversary of the repatriation on board Ruslan. In 1919, Ruslan carrying 600 repatriates on board from Odessa sailed into Jaffa. The majority of people had left the country using forged documents, as the fled pogroms and war. The arrival of Ruslan marked the beginning of the Third Wave of Aliyah.
The delegation included JCU honorary president Boris Fuchsman, members of the presidium Yakov Dov Bleich and Grigory Shverk, members of the JCU supervisory board Andrey Adamovsky, Alexander Suslensky, Mykola Petrenko and others.