Ukraine’s Chief Rabbi Rejects National Medal Because of Honor to “Nazi Collaborator”


rabbi-moshe-reuven-asman-goodThe chief rabbi of Ukraine and Kiev said on Tuesday he would reject a national award over the recent decision by the country’s outgoing president to declare “Nazi collaborator” Stepan Bandera a national hero.

Viktor Yushchenko’s January 22nd move has already fueled fierce debate in Ukraine, where Bandera is a controversial figure, with his mainly West Ukrainian supporters considering him a hero. An MP from Sevastopol in the Crimea burned his passport in protest against the move, and two people have challenged the decree in court.

“I was awarded Ukraine’s Order of Merit, 3rd Class, but because of Yushchenko’s decree I am planning to give it back to the government soon,” Rabbi Moshe Reuven Asman told the Segodnya daily.

The leader of Ukrainian Jews said he was indignant at the president’s move which he said had no political future.

“This is a hideous blow to Ukraine’s international image, and, unfortunately, the new authorities will have to face the consequences,” Asman said.

Yushchenko lost the January 17 elections and will leave office soon as the ex-Soviet country is facing a runoff on February 7 between frontrunner Viktor Yanukovych, the leader of the opposition Party of Regions, and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

The  Simon Wiesenthal Center expressed its concern last weekend by the fact that Yushchenko’s controversial decree came “at the period when the world pauses to remember the victims of the Holocaust on January 27.”

Russia’s head rabbi, Rav Berel Lazar, called Ukraine’s views on World II “false and distorted” last Tuesday.

{RiaNovosti/Noam Newscenter}


  1. The Chief Rabbi of Kiev and the Ukraine is Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich, who has been in the Ukraine since 1990. The Chabad man (who claims to be chief rabbi) in this story, Rabbi Asman, is only there since 2005. Not only that, there is another chabad rabbi there, who also claims that title, but who only there since 2003, far less time than Rabbi Bleich.

    About Asman, from wikipedia: “His election as Chief Rabbi by a group formed by some wealthy Jewish businessmen in October 2005, caused considerable controversy in the Ukraine Jewish community. Azman’s election was endorsed by a group of secular Jewish leaders attending a Kiev Jewish conference, but not by any rabbinical authorities…”


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