Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Russia’s richest Jew thought European anti-Semitism was a thing of the past. Now, he’s not so sure

Viktor Vekselberg @ JTA:
Last year, my hometown of Drohobych in western Ukraine witnessed the re-opening of a choral synagogue that my father Felix and I helped to rebuild. This synagogue, dating back to the mid-nineteenth century, used to be the biggest in all of Eastern Galicia. The dedication ceremony was not meant to be all pomp and circumstance, and still over 5,000 people showed up that day. For Drohobych, with its population of 70,000, this is truly an astronomical figure. Many families traveled from afar to attend the dedication of the synagogue in person.

But only a few weeks later, unidentified criminals smashed the synagogue’s windows. Apparently, the fact that the town now has an active Jewish synagogue that was rebuilt with the money donated by a Russian businessperson made some unhappy.

This is just one example of a hate crime that Ukrainian Jews have witnessed over the past few months. Another Jewish synagogue was desecrated in Lviv. In Kolomyya, in the Ivano-Frankivsk region, a memorial wall at a local Jewish cemetery was defiled with graffiti depicting a man throwing the star of David into a trash can. In mid-February, swastikas appeared on the plasma screens in a Kiev shopping mall.

No wonder Jewish communities all over the world were greatly alarmed by the torchlight procession in the Ukrainian capital on New Year’s Eve.

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