The Chief Rabbi of the Donbass Region, Pinchas Vyshedsky, held a meeting with two Cossack leaders – Anatoly Shevchenko, the Head (Hetman) of the Ukrainian Cossack Society (URK) and Rector of Donetsk Institute for Artificial Intelligence Research, and his deputy and General Judge of the URK, Lieutenant General Igor Kozlovsky.
During the meeting, which took place in the city’s Synagogue, the participants emphasized the need for these two organizations and peoples-–Jews and Cossacks–to begin effectively cooperating with one another.
Anatoly Shevchenko said that maintaining warm relations between Jews and Cossacks and collective initiatives for the sake of Ukraine would smooth the deep wounds caused by Cossacks against local Jews so many years ago in the history of this Eastern European region. Rabbi Vyshedsky and the Cossack Hetman agreed to engage in extended cooperation with one another in the fields of humanitarian aid, education and culture.
The first Cossack companies were formed in the 15th century as units of a military character. In the 17th century, the Cossacks, under the leadership of Bogdan Chmielnicki, revolting against Polish rule, massacred tens of thousands of Jews in Ukraine, in massive pogroms. Although the Cossack communities were incorporated into the Soviet administrative system their traditions and customs continue to survive today, notably on the Don and Kuban rivers.
The Jewish community of Donetsk is a member of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Ukraine.