By COLlive reporter
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is currently on an official visit to Kiev, the first state visit of a foreign leader to Ukraine since the election of President Vladimir Zelensky, who is Jewish.
The visit, the first by an Israeli premier in the last 20 years, was coordinated by Israel’s Ambassador to Ukraine, Rabbi Joel Lyon, as well as Oleg Vishnyakov, Honorary Consul of Israel in Western Ukraine and one of the leaders of the Jewish Community of Kiev.
Netanyahu began the visit with a memorial ceremony in Babi Yar, the site of a major Holocaust-era massacre in April 1941 that saw more than 33,000 Ukrainian Jews shot dead by Nazi troops, AFP reported.
Kiev’s Chief Rabbi Yonatan Markovitch, who had an active part in the activities of the Prime Minister’s visit, was honored with reciting a chapter of Tehillim during the ceremony in memory of the victims of the Holocaust.
“I say in a clear voice, especially here, it’s our obligation to stand up to murderous ideologies so there won’t be another Babi Yar… we’ll always defend ourselves against any tormentors,” Netanyahu says. “We will never forget the suffering of our people, but at the same time we will honor those righteous who risked their lives to rescue our people.”
The ceremony was attended by Ukrainian government officials, famous former Soviet refusnik Natan Sharansky, Chabad Rabbis and community leaders.
Rabbi Markovitch discussed with the leaders of the two countries issues of bilateral relations between the countries, the development of the Jewish community of Ukraine and its role in strengthening friendship and cooperation between Ukraine and Israel.
Rabbi Markovitch and Prime Minister Netanyahu had a meaningful talk about their former experiences in the IDF. Both of them have had distinctive careers at the Army, so they share this common ground.
Chabad of Kiev has been key to the success of the visit, providing for all the Jewish needs of the delegation. Chabad of Kiev, under the auspices of Rabbi Markovitch, have made all Jewish delegates feel welcome and sure that their Yiddishkeit in Kiev stays intact.
Mariyinsky Palace, the official ceremonial residence of the President of Ukraine in Kiev, underwent a koshering process to serve a kosher meal for the reception of Netanyahu and his delegation.
The kitchen of the palace on the hilly bank of the Dnipro River was koshered under the supervision of Dnipro Chief Rabbi Shmuel Kaminetzky and Rabbi Elisha Baram.