Head of Hatzalah Ukraine attacked, stabbed in Kiev

Victim says the perpetrators were Russian-speaking youth who fled the scene

Illustrative photo of Jewish men inside a synagogue in Kiev (Mendy Hechtman/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of Jewish men inside a synagogue in Kiev (Mendy Hechtman/Flash90)

The head of Hatzalah emergency services in Ukraine said he was beaten and stabbed on Thursday night in Kiev by Russian-speaking youth.

The victim, Rabbi Hillel Cohen, described the circumstances surrounding the attack to the website

At 10 p.m., Cohen was on his way to a hospital to visit a sick tourist from the UK when he was suddenly struck so hard that he fell to the ground. Two young men began stabbing him in the leg with an unidentified object while calling him “zhyd” — the derogatory Russian slur for Jew — and other unclear words which he said sounded like Russian.

The two attackers then jumped into a vehicle that Cohen believed had been standing by.

He said that he picked himself up, got in a cab and headed to the local synagogue, where police were called.

“It turns out that we need to be more careful and alert here,” Cohen told the website.

Ukraine chief Rabbi Yaakov Bleich said another attack occurred on Friday evening “when a young couple was assaulted on their way to the synagogue.” Bleich said the two escaped harm “but it is quite frightening.”

He did not specify where in Ukraine Friday’s attack took place.

The Chief Rabbi of Kiev Alexander Dukhovny told the The Times of Israel that Thursday’s attack took place far from the center of Kiev, and that he did not know whether it was a provocation by pro-Russians or just a random violent crime.

He added that the Jewish community of central and western Ukraine “strongly support the acting government” and still believe in democratic change.

Dukhovny referenced an open letter that he and other Jewish leaders recently addressed to Russian President Vladimir Putin, urging him not to interfere in Ukraine’s internal affairs.

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