Sunday, August 24, 2008

17,... 1020 or more years?

"Рiк у рiк/rik u rik: from one year to another"! The State of Ukraine was created 17 years ago on August 17, 1991[= Aug. 11, 1991 Jul. cal. and Ellul 14, 5751\יד באלול תשנ"א] by the adoption of the Constitution voted for the "independence - самоcтïйнiсть/"самодержава"" of the former Soviet union republic. Independence [День Незалежності] developed quickly with a large consensus of the citizens about the Constitution passed on December 1. On December 25, 1991 the final act of independence was reached by stepping out of the Union. The new state was then recognized by the international countries.

It is possible consider the history of the Ukraine as a restlessly tossing up and down process of unsured long-term existence. The state is located on one of the most ancient Indo-European linguistic and human cradles and cross-roads. It is composed with many ethnicities and the modern republic has to deploy the richness of its past. In Israel, we should carefully observe how pioneers and newcomers coming from the Ukraine positively integrated a lot of local traditions.

17 years are nil compared with centuries of hardships, conquests, embattling a multi-faceted Ukrainian group of different ethnicities with their neighbors. They swayed from enmity to political opportune connection, then hatred. Isolation and diversity nurtured a country tempted by unity and scission.

This year, the republic of Ukraine has a special anniversary. Twenty years ago, the Russian Orthodox Church was leading the celebration of the thousand years of the baptism of the Rus. It was in 1988 and Soviet Union was on the move to self-liberation. Thus, in 1991, Ukraine became an independent country. Last year, the Russian Orthodox Church re-unified with the Church Abroad (Русская православная церковь заграницей). She is now involved in the re-establishment of the Russian Orthodox tradition, the return of properties and own search for the role she should play in the modern society throughout the world. In July-August 2008, the Kievan Rus' celebrated the 1020th anniversary of her baptism by a decision taken by grand duke Vladimir/Volodymyr-Володимир.

In many relevant respects, the republic of Ukraine also relies upon this long diachronical series of blessings received through the adoption of Christianity. Ukraine can track back to essential international backgrounds born out of her baptism some 1020 years ago. And this move was European from the very beginning. Grand duchess Anna was born in 1036 in Kiev. She was the granddaughter of Saint Vladimir, her mother was Swedish - and she married Henry I King of France. Their son Philippe I reigned on the throne of France where she died. She is buried in La-Ferte-Alais. She knew about the Great Schism between the Roman Latin and Greek Byzantine Churches (1054) that did not directly affected Kiev at that time. The point is that the Kievan Rus' was built upon the unity of the then-One Church of Jesus Christ as underlined in the last century by the Russian theologian Vladimir Soloviev.

Thus, this year seems to be centered on the original spiritual unity of the faith, to begin with the roots inherited from Judaism and united Christendom. The country is imperiled by the same demons of splitting movements that affected the territory throughout history.

This is indeed a special anniversary. The country is not limited to the borders of Ukraine today. More than 150 years ago, a lot of Ukrainians settled in North America, in particular in the Western provinces of Canada (Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia), the United States and some South American countries (Argentina). At the present, as a consequence of the perestroika and the drastic impoverishment of the country, a great number of Ukrainians work in the Arab peninsula, Italy, France, Spain, Germany and Israel.

The political issues that affect the republic of Ukraine are somehow linked with a real search for freedom and coherent identity that takes into account their ancient Christian roots. The Kievan Church collapsed with the invasion of the Mongols in the 13th century and the leadership passed to the Russian clergy that also had to fight for their survival. It undergoes the same intra-Slavic and intra-Orthodox-Christian quests as the very old Orthodox patriarchate of Georgia and the ancient Orthodox Church of Armenia. We have to be aware of the tremendous efforts developed by the faithful in the East in their struggle for life.

Ukraine needs time as all of the Eastern-European countries, incl. the Federative Republic of Russia. In the "East", all the Churches come out of the ashes of a frightful and cruel century. They all have connections in the whole world. This creates a unique role of interfaith and international mediator between East and West.

Многiï лiта Украïна! Many blessed years, Ukraine!

av Alexander Winogradsky Frenkel

Photograph: Tryzub/тризуб - trident, symbol of Ukraine. An ancient pagan sign adopted by Saint Vladimir.

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