Ukraine: Nikolayev Mayor Corrects Mistake

Mayor Oleksandr Senkevych of Nikolayev, Ukraine, told the crowd at a Chanukah event how he corrected a rookie’s “mistake.”

By reporter

A large Chanukah celebration was held on Tuesday in the Southern Ukrainian city of Nikolayev which brought together local members of the Jewish community and neighboring towns.

The event also marked the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the ‘Or Menachem’ Day School and Gan Chaya Mushka Preschool by Nikolayev’s Rabbi Sholom and Dina Gotlieb.

Among the speakers at the event was Oleksandr Senkevych, the Mayor of Nikolayev (known today as Mykolayiv) who shared greetings to the Jewish community for Chanukah to hundreds in the crowd.

Senkevych, an IT manager, was elected to office in November 2015 at the age of 33, becoming the youngest mayor in Ukraine. He promised to attract new investment to the struggling southern port city of nearly 500,000 people, according to local media.

He was outed by the City Council in October 5, 2017, but the Central District Court of Mykolaiv ruled to recognize as unlawful the decision on his early termination on April 2. 

In his speech, Senkevych said that when he was first considering a political run, he contacted the office of the Association of Mayors to acquire the necessary paperwork to submit his candidacy.

“The Chairwoman of the Association asked me, ‘You are about to run for Mayorship of Mykolayiv. Have you heard of Rebbe Schneerson’?”

When Senkevych replied in the negative, the Chairwoman told him: “If you don’t know Rebbe Schneerson, what makes you think you can run for mayor in the place that he was born?”

Senkevych says he answered her, “Mistakes can be corrected. I take upon myself to correct my mistake.”

He then told the crowd: “I have corrected my mistake. I know Rebbe Schneerson, I learned a lot about him and from him and I led the effort to rename the street of the synagogue “Schneerson Street” in his honor.”

He added, “Every time I travel outside Ukraine, I proudly mention the fact that the Rebbe was born in our city.”

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