Zelensky calls on rabbis of Ukraine to help avoid crowds during Rosh Hashanah celebrations in Uman
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky met with representatives of the country's Jewish religious organizations and discussed compliance with anti-epidemic restrictions during the celebration of Rosh Hashanah in Uman (Cherkasy region), the presidential press service said.
Zelensky said that Ukraine understands how important it is for tens of thousands of Hasidim to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. At the same time, in 2020 coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has made significant adjustments to plans and habits, because now the epidemic situation in Ukraine and Israel is of great concern.
"This year, it is a difficult situation with COVID-19, with which the whole world is fighting now. All mass gatherings of people give an increase in infection at times. The mass celebration of Rosh Hashanah will lead to a colossal collapse. It will be the collapse in Ukraine, then it will be collapse in other countries," he said.
The president said that he had discussed the situation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and, according to the head of the Israeli government, about 8,000 believers come to Ukraine from Israel for Rosh Hashanah celebration every year.
"Therefore, they turned to us to close Uman. This holiday is very important. I am sure that every year we will only strengthen our relations. However, we have a difficult situation," Zelensky said.
He asked representatives of Jewish religious organizations in Ukraine to appeal to the Jewish community with an appeal to avoid large gatherings of people on Rosh Hashanah in 2020.
The president said that significant restrictions on mass gatherings were introduced for Ukrainians in April, when Christians celebrate Easter.
The head of state also said that due to the dynamics of COVID-19 spread in Ukraine, the government plans to restrict the entry of foreign citizens.
The rabbis who took part in the meeting said that they understand the situation that has developed due to the spread of COVID-19 and will try to convey information to believers.
Chairman of the Council of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Ukraine Rabbi Meir Stambler said that the Torah teaches that the most valuable thing is life, and a person should take care of it.
"We will do all the possible to convey your statement. We understand what is happening and how important it is," the rabbi said.
Chief Rabbi of Kyiv, Chairman of the Association of Jewish Religious Organizations of Ukraine Yaakov Dov Bleich noted the importance of normative regulation of the situation. According to him, it is necessary to envisage restrictions not only for foreign pilgrims, but also for domestic ones.
"There are gatherings of people who live in Ukraine. It is important that everyone understands that there is a framework of legislation," he said.
In addition, during the meeting, the issue of creating a memorial to Babyn Yar in Kyiv was discussed. Head of the President's Office Andriy Yermak said that earlier Zelensky held a video conference on this issue with members of the supervisory board of the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Foundation.
"The President set a clear task for the President's Office and the Cabinet of Ministers to start building the memorial as soon as possible. Projects are being discussed now. This is a tragedy that happened in our country, and our duty is to perpetuate the memory of people who died in Babyn Yar," Yermak said.
The head of state said that Babyn Yar is a global symbol of something that should never be repeated.