"It is important that children in kindergarten already know that Crimea was taken away from us and the Donbas was occupied," - Yaakov Dov Bleich

23 September, 12:40
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"It is important that children in kindergarten already know that Crimea was taken away from us and the Donbas was occupied," - Yaakov Dov Bleich - фото 1
Chief Rabbi of Ukraine and Kyiv Yaakov Dov Bleich came to Ukraine from the United States more than 30 years ago. He has opened kindergartens, theological schools, and restored the Choral Synagogue. His interviews with domestic and Western media during the occupation of Crimea and Donbas became a contribution to Ukraine’s reputation. Yaakov Dov Bleich considers the greatest task for Ukraine to preserve the patriotism and national pride that exists.

The rabbi said this in an interview with Ukrinform.

"Every year I take a psalm that corresponds in number to the Year of Independence of Ukraine (that is, now we started in the 31st year of independence). I read this psalm every day, I distributed it to the president, the Prime Minister, everyone, and I say: Listen, guys, pray for Ukraine, read the psalm, one psalm for Ukraine every day... There were some who read, I will tell you for sure – the president and the prime minister, others who read during this year. I’ve been doing this for six years, I think," the rabbi said.

When asked what threats to Ukraine he considers the most acute today, Rabbi Bleich said.

"I’m not a politician, I’m a rabbi. But I want to tell you that the biggest threat to Ukraine is the loss of self–awareness, understanding – what we are here for. Ukraine is a Slavic country that proves that we can live with democracy, with freedom, and we can appreciate and respect it. But there are others who think it’s not for us, it’s for others. The biggest task for Ukraine is to preserve the patriotism and national pride that exists. And if we, as Ukrainians – I speak not as a Jew, not as an American, not as a rabbi – if we, as Ukrainians, do not understand why and for what we are here, what we should be proud of – then this is the biggest strategic problem."

He said that in 1992 he opened the first Jewish school in Ukraine. Both the first and last bell in 1992 began with the National Anthem of Ukraine.
"This was the case in America, where I grew up. I said: if we live in Ukraine, then we should sing the Ukrainian national anthem. Now, thank God, this is being done – in almost all schools. It is important for Ukraine that children in kindergarten already know what Ukraine is. The fact that Crimea was taken away from us and Donbas was occupied is also, indeed, a threat to Ukraine."