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History is Not Destiny: Thoughts about the Russian War against Ukraine and the Jewish Past in the Region

Hosted By: Kolot Mayim Reform Temple

Kolot Mayim Reform Temple is pleased to present the eminent scholar of Eastern European Jewish history, Professor Elissa Bemporad on ‘History is Not Destiny: Thoughts about the Russian War against Ukraine and the Jewish Past in the Region’. From her extensive research, Professor Bemporad is ”intimately familiar with some of the darkest pages in the history of the Jewish communities of Ukraine”. Bemporad balances this harsh history with what she describes as “some of the greatest chapters in the history of Eastern European Jewish life” where Jews achieved “a grandeur and originality in the spheres of culture, religious life, and politics, ranging from Hasidism and Hebrew poetry to Yiddish literature and Socialist Zionism.”

To Bemporad, the current war against Ukraine triggered the greatest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II, and affects the approximately 100,000 Jews living in Ukraine today. In becoming a democracy, Ukraine has inaugurated a new chapter in the Jewish history of the region, reminding us that history evolves and should not always be written through the spectre of past violence. Bemporad asserts that “Siding with Ukraine today does not entail dismissing or forgetting the dark pages of anti-Jewish violence in the region. It is rather a reminder that we can start turning those pages and writing new ones in the book of the Jews of Ukraine.”

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