Ukrainian President Zelensky Visits Synagogue Targeted by an Attempted Arson Attack

President of Ukraine, Mr. Volodymyr Zelensky, paid a visit to the synagogue of Kherson that suffered an attempted attack by arsonists this past April. The visit came as part of an official working trip to the city—which is home to a Jewish community of about five thousand—and the surrounding eponymous region.

During the visit, the Head of State met with the chief rabbi of the city and the corresponding region, Rabbi Yoseph-Yitzhak Wolf, and got acquainted with the synagogue’s architectural charms as well as its history.

“You have accomplished a great deal for the people of this country. You have brought moments of joy into the homes of many people, as your election gave people hope. In this sense you have become a guarantor [of the tolerant and multicultural character] of our constitution,” declared Rabbi Wolf in the course of the conversation that took place in the synagogue’s main prayer hall.

As part of the visit, the President inspected the restored parts of the historical building that were damaged by arsonists in April.

Rabbi Wolf took the opportunity to thank President Zelensky for the speed with which Ukrainian authorities reacted to this act of anti-Semitism. Law enforcement officials successfully apprehended two suspected perpetrators, no more than three weeks after the incident.

As part of the meeting, the Head of State together with the Chief Rabbi handed out letters of gratitude to the chief of police of the Kherson region—Alexander Prokudin, as well as the regional head of the Ukrainian State Security Services—Sergey Krivoruchko, for promptly solving the crime.

“I would say that the most important thing is not even the fact that efficient and competent detective work on the part of our law enforcement officers made it possible to bring the investigation of this crime to a speedy and correct conclusion. What is most important is that their work demonstrated that Ukraine has a civil society. And that members of this society can expect full protection of the state—its institutions and law enforcement agencies—irrespective of one’s religion or ethnicity,” remarked the President.

Historical note: The synagogue building was constructed in 1895 and acted as a Jewish house of worship until 1941. After major restorative works were carried out, the synagogue reopened on September 14, 2010. The synagogue’s community operates a number of social programs, including a Jewish school and kindergarten. The synagogue conducts daily prayer services three times a day. 

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