In a speech Wednesday the Jewish president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, called upon the Jewish people to stand up for his country.
“Last night we were all bombed in Kyiv. And we all died again in Babyn Yar – from a missile attack … I am now addressing all the Jews of the world – can’t you see what is happening? Therefore, it is very important that now millions of Jews around the world won’t be silent. Nazism is born in silence. Therefore, shout about the killings of civilians. Shout about the killings of Ukrainians,” Zelensky said in a video address.
Who is Zelensky?
Zelensky was born to two Jewish parents on January, 25, 1978, in the Ukrainian town of Kryvyi Rih. His father is a computer science professor and his mother is an engineer.
From a young age Zelensky was interested in comedy, joining a group when he was 17. He went to college and received a degree in law but he never practiced deciding instead to pursue more comedy gigs. His career grew and in the early 2000s he landed starring roles in multiple Russian language feature films and TV shows.
Zelensky has been outspoken about his Judaism and his Jewish roots were widely known on the campaign trail.
The Ukrainian president said he grew up in an “ordinary Soviet Jewish family,” not a very religious one since “religion didn’t exist in the Soviet state as such.”
Read more about Zelensky here.
Babyn Yar shelling
A ravine outside of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv known as Babyn Yar (or Babi Yar in Russian) saw some of the most horrific violence and atrocities ever committed against the Jewish people during the Holocaust.
In two days 33,771 Jews were lined up in quickly dug pits and methodically executed or buried alive by Nazi forces. Later an additional 100,000–150,000 Jews, Soviet prisoners of war, Romanis and Ukrainian Nationalists were murdered at the site.
On Tuesday, Russian forces shelled the site in what is believed to be in a coordinated attack on a nearby T.V. tower. According to reports the memorial site was destroyed and at least five people were killed.
Read more about the Babyn Yar attack here.
Each year tens of thousands of Jewish pilgrims visit Uman around Rosh Hashanah to commemorate the founder of the Hasidic movement. The town was evacuated of civilians late last Thursday night after Russian shells killed at least 4 people there.
Read more about the attack on Uman here.
Originally Published Mar 3 2022 02:28PM EST