Thursday, October 18, 2012

Ukraine Unveils Large Jewish Center and Holocaust Museum

I am so please to see Ukraine examining, addressing and honoring
troubled issues in the country's history. In the Ukrainian city
where this holocaust museum is opening over 12,000 Jews were
killed by the Nazis. Many people doubted there would be Jews in
Ukraine in 2012. This is a triumph over prejudice and

DNIPROPETROVSK, Ukraine -- A large Jewish cultural center with a
Holocaust museum has opened in Ukraine's eastern city of
Dnipropetrovsk.The museum, which opens to the public this
weekend, is a complex of seven buildings arranged in the shape of
a menorah, the traditional Jewish candleholder. Named the
"Menorah Center," it houses thousands of artifacts plus a
community center, hotel, kosher restaurant, and art galleries.The
museum occupies almost 3,000 square meters in the
50,000-square-meter Menorah Center.The complex hosts an Institute
for Jewish Culture In Ukraine and a gallery that features
photographs of 40 major synagogues in Dnipropetrovsk before the
Nazi occupation and video footage about the Holocaust.The opening
ceremony was attended by Jewish leaders from Ukraine, Russia, and
other former Soviet republics, officials from Israel, and the
president of the Jewish Communities of the Commonwealth of
Independent States, Levi Levayev.Yuli Edelstein, Israel's
minister of public diplomacy and Diaspora affairs, praised the
local authorities and the Jewish community for reviving Jewish
heritage and culture in Dnipropetrovsk. He expressed hope that
the new Jewish center will serve the local Jewish community, its
children, and its future."The real achievement will be when we
get here in a year from now, in two years from now, and we will
see this place full of kids, full of different Jewish activities,
full of different organizations working here," Edelstein said. "I
think that this will be the real answer to what Nazis and
communists tried to do to Jewish communities in the Ukraine and
in the former Soviet Union."

Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Matusof of the Brussels-based European Jewish
Public Affairs group was also present at the ceremony. He said
that Jewish centers in Ukraine would help Jewish communities to
fully integrate into European society."When there is a center
like such in Dnipropetrovsk and also in other places in Ukraine
where there are striving Jewish communities in terms of buildings
and spaces," he said, "people feel that there is a place where
they could come, there is someone they could talk to, there is a
meal they could share, there is a place where they could send
their children to learn, to be educated better, to have a proper
Jewish life, and at the same time living integrated fully in the
society with a European perspective."Beth Moskowitz from Boston's
Jewish Community Relation Council called the Jewish center's
opening in Dnipropetrovsk a revival of Jewish life in the
city."We all thought that there would be no Jews here today in
2012," she said. "And to see the amount of Jews that actually
take part in the Menorah Center and in the synagogue, in the
Golden Rose Synagogue, the activities here -- it's hard to
believe. I actually think this is the center for Jewish community
and the center for thriving and there has been an incredible
revival."At least 12,000 Jews from Dnipropetrovsk were killed by
the Nazis in 1941.The Jewish cultural center in Dnipropetrovsk
was initiated and financially supported by local businessmen
Henadiy Boholyubov, a banking magnate whose net worth is
estimated by "Forbes" at $2.8 billion, and his partner and fellow
billionaire Ihor Kolomoyskyy.Some sources put the cost of the
building during the time of its construction at $60 million. That
figure could not be independently confirmed.

Reported by RFE/RL Ukrainian Service correspondent Yulia
Rastybaska. Written by Charles Recknagel in Prague

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