The Babi Yar memorial in Ukraine has been vandalized with graffiti swastikas, a Shorashim organization delegation discovered Monday, in yet another vandalism incident at the site.
"We came here to facilitate the aliyah to Israel of the Jews of Ukraine fleeing from battle zones by the Shorashim initiative," Rabbi David Stav, chief of Tzohar, stated. "The swastikas have increased our resolve and sense of urgency to keep promoting the activity in which we are engaged."
This is not the first time the site was desecrated by anonymous anti-Semites. Last September, swastikas and malicious graffiti were sprayed over the memorial, days before the 73rd commemorative ceremony of the Nazi killing spree which took place there and ended the lives of over 100,000 Jews in September 1941. A menorah memorial was placed there in 1991, after years of refusal on behalf of Soviet authorities to mention the Jewish origins of the victims.
A delegation of Shorashim came to Ukraine this Monday, escorted by senior rabbis, social activists and journalists, in order to inaugurate its new office in Dnipropetrovsk.
Shorashim was established by the Triguboff Fund and Tzohar in order to aid Jews in Israel to prove their Jewish ancestry before making aliyah – in other words immigrating to Israel.
The delegation met during its stay with local rabbis, youngsters and old members of the Jewish community, the Israeli ambassador and others.
It also visited Breslov leader Rabbi Nachman's grave in Uman and various synagogues.
The new Shorashim office in Dnipropetrovsk is to prepare the newcomers to life in Israel, and to guide and counsel them in all aspects of their personal legal status in their new state. Non-halakhic Jews, namely those not Jewish under Jewish law – will be given information about giyur (conversion) options and will start the orthodox procedure, while halakhic Jews will be asked to collect their ancestral documents and certificates to prove their Jewish lineage to the Chief Rabbinate as required in Israel.
"If the Holocaust, represented in this horrible place, had not occurred, the Jewish people would have now amounted to 30 million," Shalom Norman, CEO of the Triguboff Institute, reflected. "This is why we must primarily bring back those who remained here to the bosom of Judaism by bringing them to Israel and clarifying their personal status so the loss of more Jews would be prevented."
"This cross over the Babi Yar memorial is a reminder that we must carry with us of a grim reality despite the freedom and strength the Jewish community in Ukraine benefits from today."