Day of Judaism to Be Celebrated in Ukraine for First Time
For the first time, Ukrainian Christians will mark the Day of Judaism on January 17, 2013. The venue of the event will be Odesa – a city in which in the beginning of 20th century resided the third-largest Jewish community in the world (after New York and Warsaw), and where today the Jewish community still plays an important role.
The Commission for Promoting Christian Unity of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) has initiated the celebration.
Oleksandr Dobroier, director of the European Institute of Social Communications, told RISU that the idea of celebrating the Day of Judaism is supported by Ordinary of the Roman Catholic diocese of Odesa and Simferopol Bishop Bronislaw Bernacki, Exarch of Odesa and Crimea of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Bishop Vasyl (Ivasiuk), and head of the German Evangelical Lutheran Church in Ukraine Bishop Uland Spahlinger.
The program on the Day of Judaism in Odesa is the following:
12:00 - Christian ministers’ visit to the Odesa Synagogue Chabad Shomrei Shabbos, meeting with the chief rabbi of Odesa and southern Ukraine Avraham Wolff.
1:00 p.m. - opening of the exhibition "The People of the Book" (House of Angels)
3:00 p.m. - opening of the exhibition "Righteous Among the Nations" (Bavarian House)
6:00 p.m. - prayer for the Jewish people in Christian churches in Odesa.
In recent decades, a number of Christian churches in Europe have become interested in Judaism. The second European Ecumenical Assembly, held in 1997 in the Austrian city of Graz, proposed holding the Day of Judaism on January 17 (the date was not chosen by chance, because the next day, January 18, in many countries is when the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins).
On this day exhibitions on the relationship between Christianity and Judaism are held in countries that support the Day of Judaism – Italy, Austria, Poland, the Netherlands. In religious schools and other educational institutions, experts on Judeo-Christian relations, Catholic and Protestant theologians organize seminars, lectures and conduct discussions.
In some churches the Day of Judaism is celebrated as an unofficial holiday, and in some, such as the Catholic Church in Poland, it has official status.