{4F805597-AC32-42F4-9EE2-BAD88CE3B8B2} From Chicago to Kiev
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From Chicago to Kiev

February 9, 2006 / Shevat 11, 5766

The following is a report from Noa Ben-Yishai in Kiev, Ukraine:

On Thursday, we received a visit from a delegation of rabbis from the Chicago Federation accompanied by Rabbi Poupko.  After a visit in Vilna, the delegation then made its way to Israel.

Upon their arrival in Kiev, the delegation's members visited the 'field of slaughter' at Babi Yaar, and then paid a short but an emotional visit to the Galitzky Synagogue, which is home to the 'Zionist Academy.' 

Jewish Identity emissary Yisrael Taktz gave them a tour of the synagogue while briefly explaining its history, which is among the most remarkable and thrilling stories in the annals of the Jewish community of Kiev.  Already in 1910, the synagogue was recognized as a house of worship by the Kiev regional authorities and remained under the ownership of the Jewish community until 1919.  In that year, the authorities of the former Soviet Union declared the nationalization of all assets of religious institutions.  In 1930, the synagogue was closed and handed over for use by the adjacent workshop, whose management claimed that the territory was necessary for its expansion. 

In the early 30's, a "Trans-signal" factory was established on the land of the workshop.  From this point on, until the late '90's, the synagogue served as the dining hall for the factory's employees.  In March, 1992, Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk signed an edict ordering the restoration of all articles of worship to the religious institutions.  And in 2001, the synagogue was returned to the Jewish community of Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich. 

The synagogue was renovated with the help of a donation by Arnold and Raymond Barton, the Keren Hayesod, the efforts of Rabbi Bleich, and the Jewish Agency, and it was reopened in the spring of 2004.  The building currently serves as the home of the Zionist Academy, an educational center open to the entire community, the only one of its kind throughout the former Soviet Union.

After this overview, the delegation of rabbis, which consisted of approximately 35 rabbis, was divided into 3 groups, and they were given the opportunity to meet with three families that were immigrating to Israel already at the end of that month.  The delegation members spoke with the families about their decision to move to Israel, the difficulties and the fears, their homes and families which they will leave behind in Ukraine, and, mainly, about Israel, which often features many surprises.

Before taking leave of the families, the delegation members distributed to the families a small gift – an "Aliya kit" (which contained, among other things, a pair of candlesticks, a Kiddush cup, and a sign with the "Blessing for the House") given to every immigrant, and they extended to the families their best wishes as they begin this new journey.

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Thursday 24 April, 2014 (c) All rights reserved to the Jewish Agency יום חמישי כ"ד ניסן תשע"ד