Reports of death of Jewish leader in Ukraine greatly exaggerated

Ukrainian media reported that Yehuda Kellerman was severely beaten by pro-Russian separatists.

Jewish men at a synagogue in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine.  (photo credit: REUTERS)
Jewish men at a synagogue in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Donetsk Jewish community has demanded an apology from the Ukrainian media over a reports that one of its leaders was brutally murdered by pro-Russian separatists.
According to reports, Yehuda Kellerman, a senior communal leader, was severely beaten by men adorned with symbols identifying them as belonging to the breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic, and subsequently died from his injuries in an ambulance.
“The Donetsk Jewish community formally denies this lie,” the community posted on its Facebook page on Wednesday.
“Thank God he’s all right and God bless him with health and long life, up to 120 [years],” the community asserted, demanding an apology from both the press and European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor, who was quoted as a source in the reports. Kantor was also quoted as saying that terrorists and anti-Semites had taken over the city.
The EJC had not released any statements relating to Kellerman on its website and the umbrella group strongly denied any ties to the reports.
“He most certainly did not give such an interview,” EJC spokeswoman Orly Joseph told The Jerusalem Post. “At a time when there are all too real attacks on Jews across Europe, the EJC certainly has no intention or need to pay any attention to false ones.”
Kellerman “is alive and okay and I actually spoke with him now and asked him, ‘What do you personally think about [the reports],’” said a senior community official in Dnepropetrovsk, where Kellerman is currently located. “He said it’s very complicated to really determine who is [responsible for such reports], but the community sees in this a force trying to pull [them] into the political game.
“He asked to be congratulated on the day of his ‘death,’ because today is the 25th anniversary of his becoming involved in Jewish life in Donetsk,” the community official said.
The Jewish community of Donetsk, the city at the center of the insurgency in eastern Ukraine, has been placed in the center of the conflict before.
Last April, several masked men posted flyers outside the city’s synagogue demanding that Jews register with the rebel government. The separatists denied any links to the flyer, a claim backed up by the community’s leadership.