«Jewish Observer»
April 2002
5762 Nisan

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The problem we are going to discuss can hardly be called a new one. During 60 years which past since the Babiy Yar massacre, numerous attempts of architectural interference were made in the area adjacent to the place of the tragedy. We are not talking about malicious intent, nobody doubts in good intentions to immortalize the memory of victims. Still this place imposes moral obligations upon all construction initiatives. And all these initiatives are sometimes quite doubtful. The idea of Jewish Community Center, which laying took place during mournful events last autumn, is quite doubtful as well. It is more than obvious that an overwhelming majority of Jewish organizations, which participate in the foundation of the Center, would support its erection in another place. But ... foreign sponsor's conditions are quite tough: $10 millions, 80% of which are set aside for Community Center erection; 20% - for memorial complex creation, are allocated on condition it is built in Babiy Yar. Classical West argumentation is given here: in the precise place where hundreds of thousands of our brothers were killed, we will throw the bridge to the future, reinstating Jewish life. It goes without saying that this point of view has the right to exist, but one should feel ill at ease thinking about its embodiment, say, about dancing club or drawing studio, or about entertainment of any kind. Of course, such city as Kiev, needs a Community Center (together with a half a dozen of functioning ones), and Jewish museum, which is not founded yet. In contrast to, for example Lvov, Odessa, Kerch, Kirovograd, which can serve as an example to the capital city. But is it possible to unite them in such a place as Babiy Yar ...

Frankly speaking, in today's conditions of budget reduction of heseds and reduction of financial support to those who managed to avoid being buried in the ditch, but lived an uneasy life and faced up with an even more difficult old age, allocation of such a considerable amount for the creation of the Center seems morally unjustified. But don't look a gifted horse in the mouth, but this Center will become such a horse. We can hardly expect any vociferous protest against this project from someone of Jewish leaders. It is so large-scale that provides employment (or to go through the motions) to many of Jewish structures.

Victor Nekrasov came out against the creation of an entertainment complex at this place. It was in the epoch when one didn't expect any Judaphile decisions from authorities. Nevertheless, the complex was not erected. Today it is not convenient to wash a dirty linen in public, the project is ours, you know. As for the hopelessness of the situation (that is impossibility to use the grant in any other way) they (hopeless situations) simply do not exist. We simply pay for every "appearance". And at times the price can be quite high...


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