"I fought for the conferment of Righteous Among the Nations title on Andrey Sheptytsky" - Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich
"Yad Vashem is not God. I say: it’s God who decides who is righteous and who is not. It is written in the Holy Scriptures that man sees with his eyes, and God sees with his heart, God will decide. Is Yad Vashem God? Are they God’s intercessors, who are they? They also have their own policy, we can criticize them, I don’t mind, I’m not saying that they are monopolists of such titles." This is Yaakov Dov Bliech’s comment on the delay on the part of Yad Vashem in the process of recognizing Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky of the UGCC as a Righteous Among the Nations for saving Jews during World War II.
"I am ready to build anything for Sheptytsky. Now, this year, I am preparing a very huge exhibition on Sheptytsky. This will be an exhibition of interviews with the Jews he saved," the rabbi added.
As RISU has reported, Ukraine expects that the Primate of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (1900-1944), Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky, will soon receive the honorary title of "Righteous Among the Nations".
Well-known figures and the president have repeatedly appealed to the Israeli Yad Vashem Institute to call Metropolitan Sheptytsky the Righteous.
"By saving people’s lives during World War II, he earned special respect from the Jewish community. We rightly expect that in the near future the name of Andrey Sheptytsky will take its place among the Righteous Among the nations," the President’s Office said in a statement on the occasion of the 155th anniversary of Metropolitan Sheptytsky’s birth.
Nobel laureate in chemistry, professor Roald Hoffman from Cornell University (USA) also stressed that Metropolitan Andrey deserves the title of "Righteous Among the Nations". Roald Hoffman is the only Nobel laureate in the world who was born in Ukraine and escaped the Holocaust during World War II.
"The actions of Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky obviously deserve to be marked with the title of the “Righteous Among the Nations” on behalf of Yad Vashem (the Israeli Memorial Complex for the catastrophe and heroism of the Jewish people). Sheptytsky was one of the very few leaders of any church who spoke out against the Nazi murders. The Metropolitan’s actions during the war were exemplary – his religious institutions saved the lives of many Jewish children, protecting them from the Nazis," Hoffman said in an interview with the Canadian public organization "Ukrainian Jewish Encounter", reports the newspaper "Day" citing Interfax.
According to Hoffman, the UGCC Metropolitan’s cooperation with both the Bolsheviks and the Nazis was due to a difficult period.
Commenting on the reasons for the refusal of the Israeli Yad Vashem to award This title to Sheptytsky, despite the exact facts about the Metropolitan’s personal salvation of dozens of Jews in his residence, and hundreds of more Jews were hidden in monasteries in western Ukraine on his orders, Hoffman said that this was the result of propaganda actions of the Soviet period.
"I think that Yad Vashem first received disinformation from the Soviet authorities, who considered Sheptytsky as a representative of Ukrainian nationalism. The sad thing is that even in the following years, the Yad Vashem leadership did not see it possible to reject this misinformation, and was not able to reach a balanced judgment against this righteous religious leader," he explained.
Regarding the actions of "Yad Vashem", the latter explained that they will re-consider the case of recognizing Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky of the UGCC (1865-1944) as a Righteous Among the Nations if they receive previously unknown documents and testimonies that cover the Metropolitan’s activities during the German occupation in a new way.
Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky (Head of the UGCC 1901-1944) was born on July 29, 1865, in the village of Prylbychy, in the Yavoriv region. During his ministry, he significantly developed the Greek Catholic Church both in Ukraine and abroad. Being one of the richest people in Galicia, he generously sponsored Ukrainian cultural and educational societies, provided scholarships to young artists. In 1905, he founded the National Museum in Lviv and purchased a large number of exhibits for it. He supported Ukrainian economic activity and promoted the opening of cooperatives. As Metropolitan of Galicia, he was a member of the Vienna parliament and the Galician Sejm. He was oppressed by the Bolsheviks. He died on November 1, 1944, as a result of a serious illness.
You can get acquainted with the reference book "Righteous Among the Nations" by following the link.