Ukraine’s Jewish president-elect meets with Chabad rabbis
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Ukraine’s Jewish president-elect meets with Chabad rabbis

Zelensky, also a comedian, joked about his Jewish roots during an election campaign lauded for absence of anti-Semitism

Vlodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine's newly elected Jewish president, meets with rabbis in Kiev in early May 2019. (Courtesy of the Jewish Community of Dnepro/ via JTA)
Vlodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine's newly elected Jewish president, meets with rabbis in Kiev in early May 2019. (Courtesy of the Jewish Community of Dnepro/ via JTA)

KIEV, Ukraine (JTA) — Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian Jewish actor who was elected president last month, met the country’s top Chabad rabbis.

The meeting took place in Kiev, the Jewish community of Dnepro wrote on its website Monday, but did not say when or what Zelensky said in the meeting.

Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky, a Chabad leader who attended the meeting along with five other rabbis, was not immediately available to speak about the encounter.

Zelensky, also a comedian, has joked about his Jewish origin, saying during the campaign that it “barely makes 20 in my long list of faults.”

Elan Carr, the US special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, said at a conference Monday in Kiev that the “absence of anti-Semitic rhetoric during the campaign is a miracle, a stunning fact that shows how far Ukraine has come.”

Speaking at the Kyiv Jewish Forum, Carr said he would serve as a “champion of Ukraine,” partly for that reason.

Alexander Paliy, an influential political analyst who supports the outgoing president, Petro Poroshenko, stirred controversy in March when he wrote on Facebook that, despite his “respect” for Jews and some Russians, “The president of Ukraine should be Ukrainian and Christian, like the absolute majority of Ukrainians.”

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