President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with representatives of Jewish religious organizations in Ukraine and discussed compliance with anti-epidemic restrictions during the celebration of Rosh Hashanah in Uman.
At the beginning of the meeting, the President thanked for the support and prayer for peace in Ukraine, which took place on Independence Day.
"There are many different people, many nationalities and religions in Ukraine. But it is great that we are all united in Ukraine," he said.
According to the President, that is why he initiated the granting of national status to a number of religious holidays, including the following: Ramadan-Bayram, Kurban-Bayram, Pesach, Rosh Hashanah, Hanukkah, Easter of Western Christians, etc.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy noted that Ukraine understands how important it is for tens of thousands of Hasids to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. At the same time, this year's coronavirus pandemic has made significant adjustments to plans and habits, as the current epidemic situation in Ukraine and Israel is of great concern.
"This year, due to COVID-19, the situation the world is struggling with is difficult. All large crowds of people give a significant increase in incidence. Mass celebration of Rosh Hashanah will lead to a colossal collapse. It will be a collapse in Ukraine, then it will be a collapse in other countries," the Head of State stressed.
The President of Ukraine said that he has discussed the situation with the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, and according to the head of the Israeli government, about 8,000 believers come to Ukraine every year from Israel alone on Rosh Hashanah.
"That's why they asked us to close Uman. This holiday is very important. I am sure that every year we will only strengthen our relations… But we have a difficult situation," Volodymyr Zelenskyy explained.
He asked representatives of Ukraine's Jewish religious organizations to appeal to the Jewish community to avoid mass crowds on Rosh Hashanah this year.
The President reminded that significant restrictions on mass gatherings were introduced for Ukrainians in April, when Christians celebrate Easter.
The Head of State also added that due to the dynamics of the spread of coronavirus in Ukraine, the government plans to restrict the entry of foreign citizens.
The rabbis who attended the meeting said they understand the situation caused by the spread of coronavirus and will try to convey information to the believers.
Rabbi Meir Stambler, Chairman of the Council of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Ukraine, stressed that the Torah teaches that the most valuable thing is life, and a person should take care of it.
"We will do our best to convey your message. We understand what is happening and how important it is,” Rabbi Meir Stambler said.
The Chief Rabbi of Kyiv, President of the Association of Jewish Religious Organizations of Ukraine Yakiv Dov Blykh noted the importance of normative regulation of the situation. According to him, it is necessary to provide restrictions not only for foreign pilgrims, but also for domestic ones.
"There are gatherings of people living in Ukraine. It is important for everyone to understand that there is a framework of legislation," he said.
In addition, the creation of the Babyn Yar Memorial in Kyiv was discussed during the meeting. Head of the Office of the President Andriy Yermak said that earlier Volodymyr Zelenskyy had held a video conference on this issue with members of the supervisory board of the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Foundation.
"The President has set a clear task for the Office of the President and the Cabinet of Ministers to start building the memorial in a short time. Now there is a discussion of projects. This is a tragedy that happened to us, and it is our duty to perpetuate the people who died in Babyn Yar," Andriy Yermak said.
The Head of State added that Babyn Yar is a global symbol of something that should never happen again.
"It's important for people around the world to understand what happened here when they get here. It is important to remember what people have gone through so that it never happens again. Therefore, the task is to work out the concept as soon as possible," the President said.