DISPUTES OVER THE BABIY YAR CENTER
"Jewish heritage center is a project of the Jewish community of Kiev and the American Joint Distribution Committee "Joint". It is supposed to be a gift of the world Jewish communities to Ukraine as an act of solidarity for the sake of life". These are the final words in the invitation for public discussion of projects made by Ukrainian and Israeli architects. The discussion was held in the Republican Artists' House.
Here are some words about the conception. First of all, it is thought to be a place for preserving and promoting the richest Jewish spiritual and material heritage. It is supposed to become the foundation for developing the community center, the visitors of which will participate in different programs, will learn more about Jewish history and culture, will revive Jewish book publication and folk crafts, will meet political and cultural leaders from Ukraine and abroad, will borrow books from the library and visit exhibitions. The key elements of the "Heritage" should be an educational center and research institute.
The site for the "Heritage" has already been chosen. It is the territory "close to Babiy Yar (or in Babiy Yar, as opponents insist)". This choice, as members of the organizing committee think, "will symbolize the spiritual strength of the people, which survived to live".
There were two eternal questions to answer during the discussion - "what for" and "why". The answers were different. One should be extremely correct to put such questions when reaching the goal is more important than the reason. We tried to do our best to be correct.
The reader will find below different points of view on the issue. On the whole, they reflect the views of the Jewish public. Why only Jewish? Here are the words of a young taxi-driver who took me home and with whom I shared my impressions on what I had seen and heard: "First of all, it is a Jewish problem. Let them be the first to solve it". We can't but agree with him.
We have to agree with him because, as Igor Kuperberg said, this complex seems "to become the only memorial erected by our generation".
So, read below the points of view of people with whom we spoke in the halls of the Artists' House during breaks and of those who spoke at discussions.