Photo: Chief rabbi of Ukraine Facebook page (c) 2017
4 September 2018:
Ukraine: a personal perspective
The The British Ukrainian Society is delighted to confirm that the next speech in our lecture series will be given by Rabbi Moshe-Reuven Azman, Chief Rabbi of Ukraine, on 4 September 2018 at 7pm in the Attlee Suite, Portcullis House, Bridge Street, Westminster SW1A 2LW.
His talk is entitled, ‘Ukraine: a personal perspective‘ during which he will discuss his observations about current affairs in Ukraine, the historic contributions of the Jewish community in the country and its current renaissance.
We hope you will be able to join us, and please feel free to invite your friends and colleagues to this event.
Anyone who would like to attend should please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org at their earliest convenience.
Due to tight security and the potential for queues, we would advise you to allow at least 30 minutes to enter Portcullis House; further instructions and a map will be sent in due course to those who RSVP.
Keep up with news and events by liking our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/britishukrainiansociety) and consider becoming a sponsor of the BUS to help our activities continue and expand.
Rabbi Moshe-Reuven Azman
Chief Rabbi of Ukraine of the All-Ukrainian Jewish Congress and the United Jewish Community of Ukraine
Rabbi Moshe-Reuven Azman was born on 14 March 1966 in St Petersburg (then Leningrad). His great-grandfather on his maternal line studied at Lubavitch, and a great-grandfather on his paternal line was a famous Lithuanian rabbi.
At a young age Moshe-Reuven began to attend a synagogue on Lermontov Avenue, which at that time was the centre of Jewish life in Leningrad, and of the struggle for Jewish rights. Moshe-Reuven joined this struggle with youthful ardour and by the end of secondary school, Moshe-Reuven had received ordination in ritual slaughter.
Moshe-Reuven became a life-long defender of the Jewish way of life. As a young man he was repeatedly arrested and in 1982 the main Soviet newspaper, Leningradskaya Pravda (Truth of Leningrad), dubbed Moshe-Reuven ‘an enemy of Soviet power’ in an article about Jewish refusenik activities in Leningrad. That same year, he and his family were refused the right to emigrate to Israel so he continued his studies at the yeshiva, then got married. In 1987, the couple were finally given permission to move to Israel, where Moshe-Reuven continued his studies at Chabad yeshivas in Jerusalem.
While studying at the yeshiva, Moshe-Reuven became head of ‘Beit Chabad for Russian Jews’, and was posted to Toronto. There he started to work with Russian-speaking Jews. After receiving his degree, he was sent to Ukraine where he worked as Deputy Director of ‘Saving Children from the Chernobyl Zone’ in Kfar Chabad between 1991-1995.
During this time, Rabbi Azman began working towards the return of the Brodsky Synagogue in Kyiv, where a puppet theatre had been operating since Soviet times. The local Jewish community started by taking over one room, then two until eventually the Kyiv authorities decided to give back the entire building. This year the community will mark 120 years since the Synagogue was built.
Shortly thereafter, Moshe-Reuven became Chief Rabbi of Kyiv and its regions, then Chief Rabbi of the All-Ukrainian Jewish Congress. During his tenure Moshe-Reuven not only restored the Brodsky Synagogue but also founded a yeshiva, the Institute for Torah Scribes, a charity dining room, three kindergartens, two schools and an orphanage along with many other charitable and educational institutions.
In 2001, Rabbi Azman was awarded a ‘Badge of Honour’ by the Mayor of Kyiv. He was made an honourary citizen of Kyiv, and in 2009 was awarded an ‘Order of Merit’ by President of Ukraine.
On 11 September 2005, Rabbi Azman was elected Chief Rabbi of Ukraine. Since 2011 he’s been Chairman of the Board of Russian-speaking Rabbis in Israel and in 2012, Rabbi Azman was elected the representative from Ukraine to the European Jewish Parliament.
In 2015 Rabbi Azman founded the community of Anatevka, located 40 minutes outside of Kyiv, to welcome Jews displaced from the conflict in eastern Ukraine. There are currently 27 families – around 150 people – rebuilding their lives there; they are given a place to live, assistance in finding work, schooling for their children and spiritual and material assistance. It marks a historic return to an area where Jews were forced out by pogroms and Nazi occupation. Rabbi Azman plans eventually to have enough housing for 1,000 people.