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May 14, 1993 - Image 62

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-05-14

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Kiev, Ukraine (JTA) — In
another sign of the rebirth of
Jewish life in the post-
Communist age, the rabbis
of Ukraine announced this
week they are forming an of-
ficial rabbinate.
Rabbi Yaakov Bleich, the
chief rabbi of Ukraine, ex-
plained that the forming of
the rabbinate will "help to
strengthen religious life in
the country, first and
foremost through education,
as well as building lasting
institutions in Ukraine."
The formation of a Beth
Din, a religious court, was
also announced. Rabbi Yit-
zhak Yoffe of Kharkov, the
oldest rabbi in Ukraine, was
elected as its honorary pres-
It is hoped that the forma-
tion of the Beth Din will help
resolve some of the questions
arising as a result of the lack
of rabbinical marriages and
divorces under the Commu-
nist regime.
Both announcements were
made at a conference of the
Union of Jewish Religious
Organizations of Ukraine, a
major umbrella group repre-
senting the estimated
500,000 Jews of Ukraine.
As it stands now, the rab-
binate has 16 members rep-
resenting 11 cities
throughout the country. The
main priorities of the body
will be coordinating edu-
cation programs, both for
adults and children, oversee-
ing the production of kosher
food products, organizing
Hevra Kadisha burial
societies as well as working
to encourage emigration to
Since 1989, tens of
thousands of Jews have
emigrated from Ukraine.
Though over 1,000 Jews a
month are still immigrating
to Israel, the rabbinate
hopes to discourage the
growing immigration to
Germany and the United
Meanwhile, the Union of
Jewish Religious Organiza-
tions has also increased its
activities. It was established
last November in an attempt
to bring order to the pro-
liferation of Jewish groups
formed since the downfall of
the Communist regime.
Today the union and the
Association of Jewish
Organizations and Com-
munities of Ukraine are the
country's two most influen-
tial Jewish umbrella groups.

Earlier this year, in con-
junction with the Canadian
Foundation for the Edu-
cation and Welfare of Jews
in the Soviet Union, the
union successfully
distributed over 100 tons of
matzah and other food pro-
ducts for Passover to every
Jewish community in
The union has also helped
to arrange the procurement
of religious articles for com-
munities and individuals
and financial help for
smaller communities.
At the union's conference
this week, a program was
presented concerning the
restitution of the hundreds
of synagogues and other
communal Jewish property
confiscated by the Commu-
nist government.
The Ukrainian govern-
ment has so far returned

The rabbinate
hopes to
discourage the
immigration to
Germany and the
United States.

only a small fraction of the
buildings, but has promised
the return of all such proper-
Vladimir Maslov, a lawyer
working with the union on
this program, has requested
that all communities make a
list of the property con-
fiscated, so that it can be
presented to the govern-
Mr. Maslov, referring to
both the law passed by the
Parliament and the presi-
dential decree concerning
confiscated property, ex-
pressed hope that the prob-
lem would be resolved by the
end of this year.
The governing board of the
union also discussed the
need for Jewish chaplains in
the Ukrainian armed forces
and the formation of a Jew-
ish Officers Club, both of
which were not possible
under the Soviet govern-
It was also announced that
the Jewish communities of
Drugobich and Chelnitsky
have paired with sister con-
gregations in Manchester,
England and Colmar,
France, respectively.

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