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A commemoration with high officials from all over the world will take place at Babi Yar (a huge ravine now close to the centre of Kiev, Ukraine) where the shootings of Jews started on September 29, 1941 (75 years ago) on the most Holy day for the Jewish people: Yom Kippur! The Israeli President Reuven Rivlin will also attend this commemoration at Babi Yar.
Thousands of children and babies in this ravine were buried alive! In three days time more than 33,000 Jews were shot or buried alive at this ravine, but in fact Babi Yar is a mass grave of 150,000 mainly Jews, gipsies and physically ill! There is a remarkable book about Babi Yar (forbidden during the communist era) named "Babi Yar" written by a 14 old boy from Kiev, Anatoly Koeznetsov! Today it is available in Russian, Ukrainian and Dutch! People who read it consider it the most special book they have ever read about the second world war!
Ira Sulim-Carlier as director of the charitable fund Christians for Israel Ukraine and I as the founder Koen Carlier will attend the presentation of a new book about Babi Yar by Johannes Shvalina. This book presentation will take place on the 28th of September, 2016. The President of Israel invited all the Jewish leaders and rabbi's in Ukraine. We will represent Christians for Israel Ukraine at the presentation in the centre of Kiev!
Holocaust survivor Boris Zabarko sharing just before Babi Yar the selection point where Jews had to undress and walk naked to the ravine, one kilometer further
There is still too little knowledge about the killing/shooting of 1,700,000 Jews in Ukraine (mainly elderly, sick, mothers with their children and babies) while the young Jewish men had to serve in the Soviet army! So you can imagine what it meant when these young Jewish soldiers came back home after the Second World War!!! There are about 2,000 Jewish mass graves all over Ukraine and still many of them without a monument!
Ruben Ridderhof recently visited Eastern Ukraine with a delegation and wrote an article about it called "The Rabbi of Mariupol" for the Dutch newspaper "Israel Aktueel". This article is also posted on this website! Catholic priest Patrick Debois wrote an English book about East Ukraine called: "Holocaust by bullets"!
During the communist era the holocaust survivors were forbidden to talk about this but they were forced to "celebrate" the victory day each year on the 9th of May, celebrating the USSR's victory over Nazi Germany! Christians for Israel Ukraine started erecting holocaust monuments since October 2010 and so far eighteen small holocaust monuments where placed and two more are planned to be opened by the end of 2016!
Boris Zabarko and Koen Carlier
Since 2010 Christians for Israel Ukraine organizes regular working/study trips to Ukraine to enable participants to learn more about the past, present and future of the Jewish history and in 2017 we plan to organize another ten working/study trips! Recently we welcomed seven participants from Austria and five from Germany on a working/study trip under the guidance of Marie-Louise Weissenböck of Christians for Israel Austria and it made a deep impact on all of them!
Chief rabbi of Kiev Jonathan Markovich with his wife Ina (right)
Christiene Dietrich from Ruccheim organized the first German speaking working/study trip to Ukraine in June 2014 after we started sharing in March 2014 with our German audience about our work in Ukraine. Such trips are not easy but it is really a comfort and a blessing to meet with Holocaust survivors and listen to the stories how they survived firsthandedly!
We often see that reconciliation takes places between the participants of these study trips from different parts of Europe and also between the participants and the Holocaust survivors in Ukraine! I still wonder why exactly 70 years after the Holocaust in Ukraine (1944 - 2014) the country ended up in such a mess and in a controlled war in Eastern Ukraine by the Russians. For the first time after the Second World War Jews had to flee again (among them Holocaust survivors) to safer areas in Ukraine but many chose to make aliyah as well.
In November 2016 we will inform you about the dates for the working/study trips for the following year, 2017.
Please pray for the commemoration on September 28, 2016 at Babi Yar as well as for protection and that we as Christians for Israel Ukraine can continue to play a part in comforting and blessing the Jews in Ukraine!
Koen Carlier - Founder Christians for Israel Ukraine