Uzhgorod Jewish Community Confronted by Antisemitism

The Jewish community of Uzhgorod in West Ukraine became increasingly worried of anti-Semitic attacks this week, with anti-Semitic graffiti proclaiming, “Death to the Jews” and calling for “revenge” appearing on the wall of city’s Jewish charity center on Saturday night and on the fence of the synagogue Sunday night. 

Responding immediately to the threat, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, the president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, instructed to provide security measures for the community’s safety.

“We contacted the Israeli embassy right away,” said Uzhgorod Rabbi, Mendy Wilhelm, in a phone interview. “We cannot take these things lightly.” Uzhgorod synagogue serves as a de-facto community center, hosting a Jewish kindergarten, youth events and more, so there are always many children around. On Chanukah, the Jewish community is also planning to conduct a lot of public celebrations, usually open to everyone.

“We are monitoring the situation in the city and doing everything possible to ensure security and protection for the Uzhgorod community, we call upon the Police to find them as quickly as possible and to prevent possible tragedy,” said Daniel Gordon, Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS outreach director.

Police are conducting investigations. Although the synagogue’s front security camera wasn’t working, the footage from the camera at the charity center showed a group of men with covered faces performing the act of vandalism. 

This isn’t the first anti-Semitic occurrence in Uzhgorod over the past years. Last year, on the same date, Uzhogord’s Holocaust memorial in the city center was vandalized with red paint and flyers of anti-Semitic nature. The date – last Saturday in November – is Ukrainian Golodomor memorial day, a day when the country remembers victims of famine-genocide conducted in Ukraine in 1932-1933 by the Soviet government. Ukrainian ultra-nationalists, however, are using the tragedy for anti-Semitic incitement among the population.

“We want to bring light to our city and are confronted by those who are bringing darkness,” Rabbi Wilhelm said.

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