AFTER NEW ANTI-SEMITIC ATTACKS, CHRISTIAN-SUPPORTED FELLOWSHIP TO BOLSTER JEWISH SECURITY IN UKRAINE
JERUSALEM, Dec. 1, 2017 – The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship) will help bolster security measures for the Jewish community of Uzhgorod in western Ukraine after a series of anti-Semitic vandalism attacks this week.
The first attack took place Saturday night, when graffiti proclaiming “death to the Jews” and calling for “revenge” appeared on the wall of the city’s charity center, while the same messages were scrawled Sunday night on the fence of the Jewish Community Center, which includes the local school, synagogue, and home of the community’s rabbi, Mendy Wilhelm.
The Fellowship’s founder and president, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, said in response that The Fellowship would provide increased security measures including an around-the-clock armed guard to help protect the local Jewish community, as part of its global Jewish community security support.
“It is unacceptable that in this day and age, Jews anywhere are being targeted and threatened by the scourge of anti-Semitism,” Eckstein said. “Thanks to our millions of Christian friends worldwide who stand with the Jewish people and with Israel, we will continue to help defend and protect the Jewish people, in Uzhgorod and around the world.”
The Fellowship has already provided more than $3.6 million in 2017 alone to more than 30 Jewish communities from Argentina to Ukraine, funding new fencing, video monitoring systems, guards, security training, and more. The Fellowship began stepping in to bolster security for Jewish communities worldwide after the 2008 Islamic terror attacks in Mumbai claimed the lives of a local Chabad rabbi and his wife, among 166 victims total.
The Fellowship has worked with the Chabad movement, the Jewish Agency and directly with communities since then, including after the 2015 terror attacks in Paris, providing more than $15 million in grants for security enhancements in 85 cities worldwide.
Rabbi Eckstein said The Fellowship is working closely with the Uzhgorod Jewish community to determine specifically what measures to take. Wilhelm told The Fellowship he has been in contact with the Israeli Embassy in Ukraine, while The Fellowship’s local coordinator urged the police, who are investigating the attacks, to apprehend those responsible.
Although the synagogue’s front security camera wasn’t working at the time of the attacks, the footage from the camera at the charity center showed a group of men with their faces covered carrying out the vandalism.
“We are monitoring the situation in the city and doing everything possible to ensure security and protection for the Uzhgorod community,” said Daniel Gordon, The Fellowship’s outreach director for the Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS. “We call upon the police to find the attackers as quickly as possible and to prevent possible tragedy.”
Wilhelm said the Uzhgorod synagogue serves as a de facto community center, hosting a Jewish kindergarten, youth events, and more. The Jewish community is also planning to conduct public celebrations for the upcoming Hanukkah holiday, Dec. 12-20.
This isn’t the first anti-Semitic incident in Uzhgorod. Last year, on the same date, Uzhogord’s Holocaust memorial was vandalized with red paint and anti-Semitic fliers. The date – the last Saturday in November – is Ukrainian Golodomor Memorial Day, when the country remembers local victims of the 1932-1933 famine carried out by the Soviet government. Ukrainian ultranationalists have used the holiday for anti-Semitic incitement.
“During Hanukkah, we want to bring light to our city and instead are confronted by those who are bringing darkness,” Wilhelm said.
For further details, contact: Ryan Greiss, Puder PR, New York: (212) 558-9400; [email protected]