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Vandals defile Sholem Aleichem’s monument in Kiev with swastika

Last Sunday night, an unidentified group of vandals painted a swastika graffiti on the monument honoring the father of Jewish literature, Sholem Aleichem, according to a report posted by Chief Rabbi of Ukraine and Kiev, Moshe Reuven Asman, on his Facebook page.

This is yet another case of anti-Semitism in Ukraine in the past several weeks. In September, for instance, unidentified criminals desecrated a monument dedicated to the Jews who perished in a massacre in Bogdanoka village in Nikolayev region at the very site of this tragic event. The attackers covered the monument with a swastika and left a note with threats to President Vladimir Zelensky, former transportation minister, Yevgeny Chervonenko, and head of Ukrainian Jewish Committee, Eduard Dolinsky.

In 1997, a monument dedicated to Sholem Aleichem was erected in Kiev — another was erected in 2001 in Moscow.

CEO of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress (EAJC), Haim Ben-Yakov, addressed Ukrainian government, “To our great dismay, recently we have been witnessing an increasing number of anti-Semitic incidents all across Ukraine.

The country’s law enforcement agencies must do everything possible to find and prosecute the criminals. Desecration of monuments is an alarming symptom of a troubling condition, which can develop into a more acute form. It is urgent that we act promptly and decisively in order to avert further escalation of anti-Semitic sentiment in the country.”

On November 27, Kiev will host the first Summit of Euroasian Jewry, bringing together for the first time hundreds of Jewish leaders from across the region.

The Hebrew phrase שלום עליכם (shalom aleichem) literally means “[May] peace [be] upon you!”, and is a greeting in traditional Hebrew and Yiddish.

Sholem Aleichem was an impassioned advocate of Yiddish as a national Jewish language, which he felt should be accorded the same status and respect as other modern European languages. He did not stop with what came to be called “Yiddishism”, but devoted himself to the cause of Zionism as well. Many of his writings present the Zionist case. In 1907, he served as an American delegate to the Eighth Zionist Congress held in The Hague.