Boris Lozhkin: Ukraine is least antisemitic country in central Europe

Lozhkin will headline Kyiv Jewish Forum on September 8-9.

Boris Lozhkin to speak at Kyiv Jewish Forum online. (photo credit: JCU)
Boris Lozhkin to speak at Kyiv Jewish Forum online.
(photo credit: JCU)
Boris Lozhkin, president of the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine, will be opening this year’s Kyiv Jewish Forum, which will be broadcast online September 8 and September 9 in partnership with the Jerusalem Post. The conference will feature addresses by leading world figures, including Volodymyr Zelensky, President of Ukraine, President Reuven Rivlin, Benjamin Gantz, Alternate Prime Minister of Israel, Ronald Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress, Elan Carr, US Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, and human rights activist Natan Sharansky, among others.
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Participants in the online conference will participate in a wide variety of fascinating panel discussions, including the legacy of Babyn Yar, the Iranian threat, Jewish leadership in the fight against COVID-19, the state of antisemitism in Ukraine, the durability of the US-Israel alliance, and many other thought-provoking topics. The conference will be broadcast on the Jerusalem Post site on September 8-9.
In addition to serving as president of the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine, Lozhkin also is a vice president of the World Jewish Congress and the Eurasian Jewish Congress and works intensively with the European Jewish community.
Lozhkin says that today Ukraine is regarded as the least antisemitic country in central Europe, and is a much more open and accepting society. “The relationship between Jews and Ukrainians is very tolerant, and it is a safe country for Jews,” he says. “The Ukrainian Jewish community is very active. There are many Jewish organizations – both religious and non-religious. There are Jewish centers, Jewish schools, and kosher restaurants.” Lozhkin estimates that the Jewish population of Ukraine today is approximately 200,000.
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One of the most significant projects that the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine has undertaken is its ‘Righteous Among the Nations Project.’ Lozhkin says that there are more than 2,600 Ukrainians among Yad Vashem’s listing of non-Jewish who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. 
“I thought that Ukrainians should know more about these heroes, especially because they were not Jewish,” says Lozhkin.
To that end, Lozhkin and the Confederation decided to honor these notable Ukrainians by having streets and public squares named in their honor in the cities and towns where they lived. The Confederation contacted the mayors of towns and villages to encourage them to name a street and square in their city after these righteous individuals.
To date, he says, twenty-two streets in Ukraine have been named after Ukrainian heroes, who risked their lives to save Jews, with the ultimate goal to name one hundred streets throughout the country after righteous Ukrainian gentiles. Lozhkin says that the naming of streets after Ukrainians who assisted Jews is a great lesson of tolerance and education.
“It teaches a great lesson that there was a Holocaust because there might be young people in Ukraine, who know nothing about it. We need to teach young people that there was such a tragedy, but that in this tragedy, there were Ukrainians who were tolerant.”

Israel’s President, Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin sent a special message of greetings to the Kyiv Jewish Forum, writing “It is a pleasure to send my greetings to the Kyiv Jewish Forum, an important forum for debate and discussions of the challenges the global Jewish community is facing. Ukraine is one of the cradles of our Jewish civilization and now plays an important role in the contemporary Jewish world. I would like to congratulate the organizers for ensuring that the conference is taking place, despite the limitations we all face as we deal with the coronavirus pandemic. We face a worrying rise in antisemitism, hatred and discrimination, some of which is only exacerbated by the coronavirus crisis. We must be clear and united when we say — zero tolerance for racism or xenophobia in any form, in any place.”

In addition to the greetings from President Rivlin, Volodymyr Zelensky, President of Ukraine sent his best wishes and greetings to the Kyiv Jewish Forum upon their virtual conference.

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