Ukraine chief rabbi named two things one needs to learn from Andrey Sheptytsky
The grandeur and unique personality of Metropolitan Sheptytsky is an example of the full and generous service to not only the Ukrainian people, not only to the parishioners of his church, but to all mankind. Chief Rabbi of Ukraine Yaakov Dov Bleich was reported as saiyng this on November 1 at the National Opera of Ukraine during the solemn academy dedicated to the 150th anniversary of Metropolitan Sheptytsky.
“Metropolitan Andrey is a man of peace. He advocated the cooperation of all denominations and faiths. He did not divide people either by nationality or by religion. On these principles the outstanding figure of the twentieth century built his approach to life, religion, culture and education, full of boundless courage and boldness in evil and tragic times for all mankind. The UGCC head treated other faiths with dignity,” the rabbi said.
The spokesman said that Metropolitan Sheptytsky knew Hebrew and Yiddish. He maintained friendly relations with the religious Jewish communities. “Before the holidays Metropolitan always sent greetings to Jewish communities in Hebrew. In addition, he sent money to Jewish communities on gifts for the poor on holidays. When Metropolitan Andrey came to any Galician city or town, he was solemnly greeted by the Ukrainian community along with a priest, a rabbi, and a chairman of the Jewish community, who took a Torah scroll for the meeting with Metropolitan. During the German occupation Sheptytsky was half-paralyzed, but not only spoke on behalf of his Church against the German and Russian policy, but also led the campaign entitled “Moral Sympathy”" and rescue the Jews from extermination,” said the spiritual mentor of the Ukrainian Jews.
The rabbi said that the actions of Metropolitan Andrey always led people to love and honesty. “And this is,” he continued, “probably the reason why Metropolitan Andrey won the respect of all nations. Metropolitan Sheptytsky is an example of love for his people, an example of desire for the unity of all the Churches, religions and nations and a model of conduct for modern citizens, especially young people. During the Second World War, Metropolitan Andrey not only saved hundreds of Jewish families through his own efforts from looming death, but united believers and clergy to help Jews.”
The rabbi said that at the Metropolitan’s initiative a group of individuals was organized that included the priests and monks involved in the organization of harboring Jews. “We say: the leader who is followed is a good leader, a leader who educates leaders is a great leader. The actions and activities of Metropolitan are taken over, the talented public and religious figures are being brought up on his example. Dignity and integrity of Metropolitan Andrey is always there with us,” Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich said.
What can we learn from this great man? “I think we can learn two important things in life ... First of all, do not ask what the country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. ... When Moses spoke to the Jews, he said: I stand between you and God. Our sages say the word “I” stands between us and God. Whenever men can take away from the “I” their interests and think of the interests of God, the interests of the people, the interests of neighbors, then we know that we are closer to God,” the rabbi said. It was reported by the UGCC Information Department.