FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 15, 2005

Schumer Calls On Ukrainian President To Rectify Desecration Of Ancient Jewish Cemetary In Chortkov

Chortkov a center of Hassidic activity for 200 years In June a hospital in Chortkov dug up this cemetery while installing a new pipeline on its property The hospital's Chief authorized the digging of the trench within the boundaries of this historic site, despite being told by local government officials in April it was forbidden.

Today U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer sent a letter to President Victor Yushchenko of Ukraine to express his dismay over the recent desecration of an ancient Jewish cemetery in Chortkov, Ukraine and to request that President Yushchenko rectify the incident and punish the wrongdoers. In late June, a hospital in the city of Chortkov dug up this cemetery to use as a garden, even though the regional government had warned the hospital in April not to proceed with these plans because they would undoubtedly disturb the hallowed ground of this cemetery, a registered historical property. Despite this warning, the hospital proceeded with the digging and it was not until the intervention of local Jewish leaders and community officials that all further activity was halted. The damage had been done and the installation of the pipe had been completed by that point.

In his letter, Schumer addressed the President, saying:
“Mr. President, I truly believe in your dedication to each and every citizen of Ukraine and your commitment to ensuring that the rights of all Ukrainians, especially minority groups, are upheld and defended. Therefore, I would like to respectfully call upon you to do everything in your power to rectify this horrific act of desecration. I urge you to take swift action to punish the wrongdoers and to provide the appropriate guidance to all national, municipal and private entities to prevent such actions in the future at this, and other analogous sites of historical and religious significance throughout Ukraine.”

Schumer noted the historical significance of this cemetery to the Jewish community in Chortkov is immense, as it is the oldest resting place for generations of local Jews dating back to the early 17th century, including the victims of the Khmelnitski pogroms. Schumer also mentioned in his letter that it continues to serve as an important center of learning for the Hasidim and that his ancestors hailed from Chortkov.

Click here to view letter.

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