Rabbi Moshe-Reuven Azman, Alexander Turchinov (center), and Oleg Tyaglibok (right) placing flowers at the monument of Taras Shevchenko in Kiev

Rabbi Moshe-Reuven Azman, Alexander Turchinov (center), and Oleg Tyaglibok (right) placing flowers at the monument of Taras Shevchenko in Kiev

The atmosphere in post-revolutionary Kiev astounds visitors for its feelings of tolerance and mutual understanding. It seems that the ousting of Yanukovych’s regime and the Russian invasion of Crimea have created new bonds of respect for individuals with different views and religions. A colorful and meaningful example of this took place a few days ago at the center of the Ukrainian capital when flowers were laid at the 200-year memorial to Ukrainian national poet, Taras Shevchenko. The chief rabbi of Ukraine and Kiev, Moshe-Reuven Azman, was also on hand at the celebration. The new heads of state—Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and acting President Alexander Turchinov warmly welcomed him there. The leader of the nationalist political party “Svoboda,” Oleg Tyagnibok, looked on and reacted to the arrival of the rabbi in a completely positive fashion.

When rabbi Azman began descending from the monument, the multi-thousand crowd of Ukrainians began chanting cries of “Long live the Jews!” and “Long live Israel!” They started coming up to the rabbi to shake hug him and shake hands with him.

It could be that this was the result of a Ukrainian television report that came two days ago regarding the fact that Kiev’s religious community under the leadership of rabbi Moshe-Reuven Azman and head of the local community Alexander Levin—president of the World Forum of Russian-speaking Jewry, donated $60,000 for the treatment of 10 Ukrainians wounded on Maidan in Israeli clinics. As reported by Forum Daily, Rabbi Azman provided a personal blessing to each of the wounded and accompanied them all the way to the plane prior to their departure for Israel.

As a Jew and a Ukrainian, I’m less concerned with the “fascism” of the new regime in Ukraine but with the fact that if Moscow has ordered there to be anti-Semitic violence in Ukraine, these might well be organized by the appointed “well-wishers,” especially since in reality, there haven’t been any pogroms. The fact that for 20 years, synagogues weren’t touched in Crimea but that on the night of February 28th, 2014, five hours prior to the Russian invasion of Simferopol, unknown thugs jumped a two-meter fence surrounding the local synagogue and draw swastikas and the words “Death to the kikes” on its doors seems fishy.

To this day, all the rumors regarding the so-called “Ukrainian fascism,” crowds of anti-Semites and destroyed synagogues, and evil “Nazis who’ve assumed power” remain the fruits of the sick imagination of the Russian media operatus.

(Original post by Shimon Briman of Forum Daily)

People approaching Rabbi Azman on Maidan Square

People approaching Rabbi Azman on Maidan Square

The Israeli flag paraded around Maidan Square in response to Israel's medical support for wounded Ukrainian protestors

The Israeli flag paraded around Maidan Square in response to Israel’s medical support for wounded Ukrainian protestors