Boris Lozhkin: US and Ukraine are united by the example of the family of Secretary of State Antony Blinken
In the wave of mass emigration from the tsarist Russia at the beginning of the 20th century, one of the families that arrived in the United States was the family of Meir Blinken, the great-grandfather of the current Secretary of State in the office of Joe Biden. This happened in 1904 due to the Jewish pogroms that raged in the Russian Empire, including the territory of present-day Ukraine. In 1904 alone, 105,000 Jews fled from Ukraine to the United States and found a society there that was more tolerant of their origin and religion. The President of the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine Boris Lozhkin writes about this in the Jerusalem Post.
“This wave of mass migration marked a critical turning point in Ukrainian history. In 1900, one out of four Jews in the entire world was living in the territory of present-day Ukraine. More Jews lived in Ukraine at that time than in any other country,” writes Lozhkin.
In the years that followed, pogroms, followed by the Holocaust and Soviet repressions, caused the Jewish population to fall away drastically. And only in recent years, the Ukrainian Jewish community has begun to actively recover. “Now I can proudly say that the Jewish community of Ukraine is growing and thriving. Ukraine is seeing a true renaissance of Jewish life,” writes the JCU President.
Those immigrants who left for the United States at the turn of the century, Lozhkin writes, were able to successfully adapt to the American democratic and tolerant conditions and achieve great success in their new homeland: “While Jews in Ukraine faced almost constant persecution, in the United States, where religious freedom was greater protected, many Jews began to thrive. Americans of Ukrainian Jewish descent include titans of 20th-century culture, such as Bob Dylan, Leonard Bernstein, and Steven Spielberg, as well as Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the first Jewish woman to sit on the Supreme Court.”
Antony Blinken is also one of those Ukrainian Jews who have achieved success in the United States. “Secretary Blinken has not forgotten his family’s history and the role America has played in supporting Jews across the globe in times of desperate need,” the JCU President writes.
According to Lozhkin, the appointment of Antony Blinken as Secretary of State provides another reason to celebrate the long and enduring ties between the U.S. and Ukrainian Jewish communities. “But more than that, it is an opportunity to fight for tolerance together,” adds Lozhkin.