Judaism in Ukraine
Devout Jews are not meant to get tattoos or shave their temples. To go to heaven, devout Jews are meant to follow 613 commandments. In Ukraine, there are estimated to be some 120,000 Jews
“We bury fragments of a Torah that cannot be used. If the letters in the name of God are somehow damaged… You can see moisture here… These letters cannot be restored. Other words can be restored with a special knife. But it can not be done with the name of God,” Milman said.
This scroll, however, doesn’t belong to Kyiv’s Great Choral Synagogue. As the fragment was left here for storage, they can not “bury” it.
Milman says that any place can be a synagogue, but only under one condition.
“Any room, in which there is a Torah scroll and 10 adult men automatically becomes a synagogue. Before the revolution, there were 145 registered synagogues in Kyiv,” Milman said.
“Judaism is considered a traditional religion for Ukraine, since Jews have always lived here, perhaps, starting from the 6th or 7th century. They were here as part of Khazar Khaganate. Today, the number of Jews living in Ukraine is between 300,000-and-350,000,” Professor of Philosophy at Kyiv-Mohyla Academy Liudmyla Flypovych said.
Conversion to Judaism can be a real challenge – as only a child born to a Jewish mother is considered to be a Jew.
“There is a long procedure that takes many years. And it is not that simple. One person out of 100 that started it, reaches the finish line. Just like Ivanka Trump, who is now considered Jewish,” Milman said.
“There is a certain procedure for conversion, called ‘Giyur.’ It is a kind of a long training, after which it is decided whether a person can be converted to Judaism or not,” Flypovych said.
Being a Jew is even more complicated – due to the number of rules.
“I have to follow 613 commandments to get to paradise. You see? So, is it easier for me to get to paradise than for you?” Milman said. “On Shabbat, we cannot do 243 types of work. We can’t turn on or off the light, write, dig the ground, cook.”
Certain foods, notably pork and shellfish, are forbidden. Jews also don’t eat beef, if a cow has not been killed in a special way.
“Even beef is forbidden for us if it was not killed by a specially trained person in a special way. This is like a science. People learn how to do this for six to seven years,” Milman said.
Milman said that even when it comes to Kosher dinners, not everyone can be invited to his house. All guests, even business partners, must first be approved by the one in charge of the household — his wife. And it is a rule for every Jewish family.