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Ukraine Jewish Community Unveils Memorial

By , Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine

( The Jewish community of Dnepropetrovsk unveiled Tuesday, a memorial complex established on the site of a former Jewish cemetery, slated for a shopping mall in 2008.

Natan Sharansky, Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, joined the city’s Mayor Ivan Kulichenko, Chief Rabbi of Dnepropetrovsk and the Dnepropetrovsk region Shmuel Kaminezki, and Mr. Gennady Bogolubov—Chairman of the Dnepropetrovsk Jewish community, at the well-attended ceremony Tuesday night.

The project, named Matseva—Hebrew for “memorial,” is the result of joint efforts by many within the local Jewish community who worked first to suspend construction when human remains were excavated in the initial stages of the shopping mall project, and then to fund the memorial.

Rabbi Kaminezki credited Mr. Bogolubov and President of the United Jewish Community of Ukraine, Igor Kolomoisky, for launching Matseva. PrivatBank was provided the funding for the project.

The site, where more than 90,000 Jewish were buried, was established as a Jewish cemetery by the Yekaterinoslav Jewish community in 1903. It would become the burial ground of victims of the 1905 pogroms and Civil War pogroms, victims of the 1932-1933 famine, and the 1934-1950 NKVD purges. It was also the site where Fascists shot Jews during the Nazi era. After WWII, authorities attempted to close the cemetery down, and part of it was eventually converted into a park.

Executed in a minimalist style by architect Alexander Sorin, the memorial features seven elements installed in a circle, symbolic of the seven menorah lights. Jewish headstones are rendered on triangles symbolic of Jewish stars, the bottom half of which are buried. 

Zelig Brez, director of the Dnepropetrovsk community, speaking to the community, among them war veterans and survivors, said, “I can only say the support of PrivatBank was huge and comprehensive. We, the Jews of Dnepropetrovsk, are very grateful to these passionate and noble people. Tears of our Jews whose relatives were buried here and who can now come here and put memorial candles by the Matseva, are also tears of gratitude to PrivatBank and other people who helped the project to come true.”

The ceremony closed with the score from “Schindler’s List” and the Kel Mole Rachamim mourning prayer read by head of the Dnepropetrovsk religious community, Reb Girsh Korol.


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