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Why Are We Celebrating That a Jew Was Elected President of the Ukraine?

April 22, 2019The Dreidel

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A Jewish actor who has no political experience just took 73% of the vote to become the Ukraine’s president by a landslide.  While we congratulate the winner, we have to ask ourselves if we are celebrating the victory of a fellow Jew, or if we are celebrating for the good of the people of the Ukraine.  This makes Ukraine the only country outside of Israel where the Prime Minister, and now the President, are Jewish.

Volodymyr Zelensky, whose only previous political role was playing the president on television, trounced incumbent Petro Poroshenko .Poroshenko lost to the television star across all regions of the country, including in the west, where he traditionally enjoyed strong support.

“We have united Ukraine,” Zelensky said,  “Everything will be all right.”

But what of this victory.  Most of us are not familiar with the challenges of the Ukraine, other than that they have been at odds against Russia for years.  We have to ask ourselves ‘are we happy that the Ukraine has elected a strong ally in the stand-off against Russia, or are we happy that the Ukraine has elected a Jew?’

I remember growing up, when my father would vote for anyone who was Jewish, no matter what their party affiliation or what they stood for.  “He’s a Jew!” my father would proudly exclaim, “and he’s got my vote!”

We all have to do what we can to insure that our voice as Jews are heard, and that we take our rightful place among other candidates.  As Jews, we have been historically on the side of liberty, and have taken up the causes of those who need our collective strength and determination.

But what of the newly elected President of the Ukraine.  Do we know what President Zelensky stands for?  Do we know what his plans are for the Ukraine people?  Probably not.  All we know is that he’s Jewish, he was on TV, and that the Ukraine people love him.

For some, that’s enough.  However, it’s up to us to look further into what we are all about.  We owe it to ourselves to not stereotype people because of the color of their skin, the language they speak, or the God that they worship.  Especially when we are choosing those who lead us.  It is not enough to vote for someone because of their religion.  We must vote because of who they are, and what they plan to do.

We wish President Zelensky the best and look forward to his strength of leadership for the Ukraine people. The Ukraine has a pivotal role in how the world deals with Russia.  The Ukraine has been challenged by Russia, and needs a leader who comes from a place of strength and resolve.

It doesn’t take a Jew to do that – but admittedly, it feels good when we do good.  Mazel Tov to President Zelensky!

Richard Stellar
Editor, The Dreidel



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