The Center for Jewish Life Studies

 

is a non-profit organization that has been established to support the translation and publishing (online and in print) of The Book of Pogroms and other documents related to the Khurbm -- the mass slaughter of Jews during WWI as well as the following it Russian Revolution and Civil War, -- as a living, growing memorial to its martyrs.

 

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Petliura_Vinnitsa
Petliura_Vinnitsa

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Victims of pogrom by Petliura troops in Zhitomir.

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Members of Jewish delegation murdered by troops loyal to Petliura.

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Petliura_Vinnitsa
Petliura_Vinnitsa

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Why do I care about the century-old genocide?

I was born and grew up in Vinnitsa, the city in the Soviet Union which is now a part of independent Ukraine.

 

In 1968, I wrote a letter to Leonid Brezhnev protesting the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. Because I was only 14, the KGB just issued a warning to my parents.

 

Two years later, several of my schoolmates and I created an informal secret organization to demand the abolition of the one-party state in the Soviet Union and the establishment of democracy. My goal was to not to destroy the Soviet Union but transform it into a multinational society of the freely associated individuals.

 

This time KGB detained me and placed me in the local psychiatric hospital for re-education using insulin shocks "therapy." 

Having failed to "cure" me, three years later they forced me to leave my country.

 

After 13 years of exile, when Gorbachev came to power, I was allowed to visit my mother only to be detained again and deported by the order of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. 

 

Later I was able nonetheless to return and by unforeseen chance took part in the defense of the Moscow's White House during the attempted anti-Yeltsin coup in August of 1991.

 

While standing on the steps there and expecting the paratroopers' attack from the Moscow river, it suddenly occurred to me that I was about to give my life for something that will lead not to the transformation but to the breakup of the Soviet Union.

If I happen to survive, then I, as a Jew born in Ukraine, might have no a place in either Russia or Ukraine, the countries whose people's freedom I had fought for most of my life.

Alexander Gendler
Editor-in-Chief of the Project

However, this thought was instantly pushed away by another, that before people can associate freely, they must first be free, so I continued to stay. . .

 

"We won!" The coup had failed that night and a few days later, Ukraine declared its independence. 


Today, Ukraine is free! Although the level of anti-Jewish sentiment is remarkably low -- incredibly 73% of Ukrainians voted to elect a Jew as a President,-- in comparison to almost any other country, according to one survey, only a third of Ukrainians want the Jews back there even as visitors. Most of Ukraine's "glorious" national heroes are vile murderers of the Jewish people. It makes for a really sick form of nationalism. Vinnytsia's monument to Petliura is just one of its reflections as it is connected directly to the Jewish genocide by Petliura's army in 1919 when Vinnytsia became temporarily the first capital of independent Ukraine. 

 

It is not only in Ukraine, Russia, and Europe that ethnic nationalisms are on the rise. In the multicultural United States, both nationalism and socialism are gearing up for the battle and antisemitism serves them both as a glue and inspiration.

 

Once published in English, The Book of Pogroms, the largest collection of documents on the subject, will serve as the living memorial to the victims of "Khurbm Ukraine 1919" and help us understand better our world and ourselves in hope that we can prevent the future where someone else will feel the need to create -- G-d forbid, -- a website called "Khurbm America XXXX."

The new monument in Vinnitsa to Symon Petliura, the national socialist leader of independent Ukraine of 1918 and Chief Ataman of patriots who were responsible for the murder of tens of thousands of non-combatant Jewish men, women, and children. The monument was placed on the grounds of the mansion that Petliura confiscated without compensation in 1918 from the family of the Jewish businessman Boris L’vovich.

Why this project is important?

 

  1. Because the ghosts of the martyrs are calling upon us not to forget them.
     

  2. Because remembering Amalek is a mizhvah, G-d's commendment, that must be observed until Israel and the world is at peace.
     

  3. Because this genocide played a crucial role in the history of humanity and its lessons must not be ignored, especially today. 
     

  4. Because, despite its significance, even the websites of organizations devoted to the prevention of future genocides fail to mention it.
     

  5. Because there are no surviving eyewitnesses and without your help, the Jewish martyrs of that genocide will be forgotten.

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