Ministry of Culture allows building ‘a place for reflections’, i.e. a synagogue, in Babyn Yar

30 January, 11:00
The Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine (MCIP) has allowed the construction of the Place of Reflection Memorial on the territory of the Babyn Yar Memorial Center. Representatives of the project note that this facility may be a synagogue ㅡ works on its construction have already begun.

This is reported by Hromadske.

Historian Vitaliy Nakhmanovych announced the beginning of the construction of a synagogue on the territory of Babyn Yar, quotes the co-chairman of the Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities of Ukraine (VAAD) Yosyf Zisels He stressed that the construction of a temporary memorial synagogue in Babyn Yar on the site of St Cyril Orthodox Cemetery is another attempt by Russia to provoke a conflict between Ukraine's national minorities.

"We are dealing with a collision of not just two projects, although very large ones. Today we are dealing with two conceptually different approaches. One is the Ukrainian approach is a derivative of Ukrainian culture... The Ukrainian view of history, both its own and the one that was around Ukraine. The second approach is that of the Russian project, which does not pay attention to such "trifles" as the traditions of different peoples... Which goes very roughly towards its goal, and only confirms my opinion that this is a "Trojan horse" that Putin puts under Ukraine," said Joseph Zisels, co-chairman of the Association of Jewish organizations and communities of Ukraine (VAAD), at a press briefing in honor of the 81st anniversary of the Holocaust victims on Monday.

We are referring to a project to build a temporary memorial synagogue on the territory of the Babi Yar National Historical and Memorial Reserve with the support of Russian-Ukrainian businessmen Pavel Fuchs and Mikhail Fridman, namely on the territory of the former St Cyril Orthodox Cemetery, located behind the Menorah Memorial.

According to Vitaliy Nakhmanovich, the permission to carry out the work on January 22 was granted personally by the Minister of Culture of Ukraine Oleksandr Tkachenko.

Ministry of Culture allows building ‘a place for reflections’, i.e. a synagogue, in Babyn Yar - фото 65905


"I remind you that some time ago, a meeting was held in the Office of the president, at which it was decided to get consent for this construction in advance from the leaders of Christian denominations. But since the prospects for obtaining such consent were extremely slim, the leaders of the Babi Yar Holocaust Memorial Center went the other way and... the synagogue was renamed the Memorial object "place for reflection," writes Vitaly Nakhmanovich.

In a comment to Hromadske, project representatives confirmed that they had received permission from the MCIP to start work on the construction of the "place for reflection" facility and stated that it could also be a synagogue: "we showed the project that we will implement. Is it possible to pray in a "place for reflection"? Maybe. According to Jewish law, where 10 Jews gather, there is already a synagogue."

However, as Nakhmanovych notes, the updated creative concept of the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center, which was presented on January 25, does not provide for the creation of a single "place for reflection", but the project "synagogues in Babyn Yar" is indicated.

At the same time, the historian said that the construction of the synagogue will be carried out on the site of the St. Cyril Orthodox Cemetery.

However, Babyn Yar is reproached that as such, St. Cyril Orthodox Cemetery has ceased to exist since 1929.

"But there are no burials on a specific site near the Menorah. We checked it with radar, and also did excavations. Neither from the point of view of Jewish law nor the point of view of Christian law, there are no norms and restrictions if we build on a site where there are no burials," the Memorial Center told Hromadske.

Earlier, the Memorial Center stated that the opening of the synagogue was planned for 2021 in preparation for the 80th anniversary of the Babyn Yar tragedy.

During World War II, Hitler's troops shot civilians, mostly Jews, in the Babyn Yar tract. On September 29, 1941, the occupation administration ordered the entire Jewish population to come to Babyn Yar, where 33 thousand people were shot the next day. According to various estimates, from 70 to 200 thousand people were killed in Babyn Yar.