By COLlive reporter
If there is one thing all feuding parties in Ukraine can agree on is that the former Soviet country is in an era of uncertainty.
The whereabouts and legitimacy of President Viktor Yanukovych are unclear after he left the capital city of Kiev amid ongoing and deadly riots, AP reported.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s parliament voted to appoint its speaker Oleksandr Turchynov as interim president and he will temporarily take over the duties of Yanukovych, who maintains that parliament’s decisions are illegal.
The leftist Israeli newspaper Haaretz, however, has no doubts as to where Jewish allegiances lie even as the political spectrum continues to evolve.
Haaretz quoted a report from Friday’s Israeli daily Maariv that “Ukrainian Rabbi Moshe Reuven Azman called on Kiev’s Jews to leave the city and even the country if possible, fearing that the city’s Jews will be victimized in the chaos.”
Haaretz reported that according to the paper’s report, Azman closed the Jewish community’s schools but still holds three daily prayers. He said the Israeli embassy told members of the Jewish community to avoid leaving their homes.
Haaretz then added a correction: “An earlier version of this report incorrectly described Rabbi Azman as the chief rabbi of Ukraine. Azman is not the country’s chief rabbi, but one of two rabbis challenging the official chief rabbi, Yaakov Bleich, in Kiev, and like most Chabad rabbis, is aligned with the Kremlin.”
So apparently there are 3 rabbis vying for the title of Chief Rabbi (although one has relocated to New York years ago), but according to Haaretz only one of them is legitimate.
Some ignorant commentators on the article were eager to build a conspiratory tower. “Moshe Azman is a Chabad rabbi with extremely close ties to Chabad in Moscow,” one wrote.
Only that Rabbi Azman is a Lubavitcher who operates independently, with no prior or present affiliation to the Federation of Jewish Communities, run by Chabad in Moscow, or with Lubavitch Headquarters in Brooklyn, New York.
In fact, Rabbi Azman is no longer employed by the Israeli-based Tzeirei Agudas Chabad (“Tzach”) organization that had the Brodsky Synagogue in central Kiev returned to Jewish hands and appointed him as its local representative.
(Both the Federation and Tzach have their own rabbis in Kiev – Rabbi Yonasan Markovitch and Rabbi Motti Levenhartz, respectively).
Then there’s the assertion that “most Chabad rabbis” are “aligned with the Kremlin” that is not only fallacious but also paints the majority of Jews in the country, who interact with Chabad, as unfaithful to their country and perhaps targets for anti-Semitic attacks.
As for Rabbi Azman, he has actually supported Yanukovych’s rival and Kremlin foe, Victor Yuschenko who rose to power in the Orange Revolution and visited the Brodsky Synagogue as President.
If a newspaper is bothering to make a correction, one would expect it to at least be correct…
VIDEO: Hear what Jewish life is really about in Ukraine and what Chabad does there from Mrs. Chani Kaminetzki, a Shlucha in Dnepropretrovsk