«Jewish Observer»
April 2002
5762 Nisan

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"Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven: "Abraham! Abraham!" "Here I am", - he replied. "Do not lay a hand on the boy", he said. "Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God". If you are familiar with the Holy Scripture, you must remember the dramatic moment from it - Abraham's sacrifice to his God. One and Almighty. We are going to return to this extract from the Torah.

At first let us recall three events, which are in the calendar of this spring: Pesakh, the Day of Disaster and Struggle, Independence Day. All these are memorable days for us.

Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark, quite an intelligent guy, grieved over a possible rupture of connection between times. He had a reason to do it. Such rupture is brought with the disappearance of any nation on its historical way and oblivion in the memory of next generations. It did not happen to the Jews, though it might have happened many times. At least 3000 years ago. Then the nation, doomed by Egypt state authorities to extermination and slow death at pyramid construction, "suddenly" found its great prophet who saved the nation not only from physical death but also from slavery - spiritual death. We celebrate Pesakh in commemoration of him.

The Jewish people could have died even later, when in the 70s of the first century AD Tit destroyed the Second Temple and Jerusalem itself for recalcitrance of Jews and belief in their own God, He banished Jews from their motherland. Many other nations, with which the cruel conquerors did the same, disappeared from the earth forever, and we know them only due to special history studies. But Jews did not get lost among other tribes. Having lived in different countries for nearly nineteen centuries, they founded their state again. Amazing history of our people could not but provoke respect of one and hatred of others, because it cannot be explained by purely materialistic arguments. The feeling arises that sudden stoppage of Syrian tank armada in Autumn, 1973, Pharaoh's army death in the Red Sea thousands of years ago - were caused by terrible Jewish God's interference.

However, is it so terrible? The greatest merit if Jewish religious study before the world's civilization is the Ten Commandments - moral code having deep humanist content, presented to Moses by God. But is it the only thing?

Let us turn up to the quotation from the Torah given at the beginning of this article. Let us get a grasp of the text and make certain of how metaphoric it is. And we shall see that in remote past Jewish God was the first to refuse from sacrifice. Though different pagan Gods up to the middle of the 20th century accepted it. It is very difficult to overestimate such a great advance in ethics: from wild primeval to the high human. Isn't it the best answer to those who for centuries fried to accuse Jews of different bloodthirsty sins up to bloody slander? As for the human blood, oceans of it shed during the 20th century. Among them - seas of Jewish blood which flooded Europe during the World War II.

A big tragedy happened in Jewish history. We have a reason for annual celebration of an event, which is called not only the Day of Disaster, but also the Day of Struggle. Nazi victims are uncountable, but among Jews there were a lot of those who fought and won. There are more than one hundred and thirty heroes of the Soviet Union. High percentage of Jews was in the armies of Allies, in French and Italian Resistance. In the former USSR within the framework of unofficial but apparent national anti-Semitism it all was suppressed. It was forbidden to mention about victims buried in big and small Babiy Yars, about heroes going to attacks against the enemy. "If there is no man, there is no problem" - as Stalin used to say. "There were no" victims and heroes in Souslov's propaganda and allegedly there was no participation of Jewish people in that terrible war. Anecdotes about "battles in Tashkent" and shooting from the "crooked gun" loved by utter people come from here.

Today we can talk about victims and heroes vociferously. Still there are people who do not want to hear about them. Up to the present, high-ranking officials say no word about Jews at Victory Day. Spiteful anti-Semitic articles, which reject even Babiy Yar massacre, do not stop being concocted. The attempts to bring these fellows to reason with the words that their behavior causes a serious damage to the image of Ukraine as a democratic state in the eyes of world community are quite naive. They seem to pursue this aim. Those who cover themselves by "ultra-nationalistic phrase" see Ukraine not in a civilized society but headed by a "dictator of local significance". And only those Ukrainians not Jews who want to see their country proud, wealthy and respected in the world can handle this case. However, it is worth mentioning that "Jewish question" is far from being principal in Ukraine.

The main thing is that the peak of Jewish presence in Ukraine is over. In spite of some gloomy periods of their life in Ukrainian land, its contribution to Jewish history is great. In this country great Jewish righteous people - tsadiks, the greatest writers and scientists, outstanding politicians, theorists and practitioners of the future creation of Jewish state were born and lived here. For centuries ordinary craftsmen and "Tev'ye-milkmen" lived here. But today there are ten times less Jews in Ukraine than ten years ago (this is a huge number for statistics). In spite of the fact that they are still the second ethnic minority after Russian people today, their number is less than one per cent from the population of the country. Nowadays the "Jewish problem" in scientific terms is called marginal, that is not crucial. Today Jews in Ukraine do not strive for territorial autonomy or any special privileges. Many of them wish to develop their culture and self-consciousness, as it is in countries where rights of all citizens are respected irrespective of nationality. There are many Jews, mainly young people who want to go to the motherland of their ancestors.

It is the right time to mention the third date of this early spring - Independence Day that is celebrated in honor of the creation of the State of Israel.

Today the country experiences hard times. However, if we review its history there is hardly a period in it, which could not be called difficult. But in spite of all this, Jewish people lived and live. That is why there is no need to coin eloquent and vociferous phrases.

I will end this article with the words from Holy Scripture - the words of prophet Amos, sage and seer who many centuries ago foretold the returning of Jews to their motherland.

"I will bring back my exiled people of Israel, they will rebuild the ruined cities ...

I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them", says the Lord, your God".

Let it be so!


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