When high-precision missiles flew to Babyn Yar on March 1, 2022, Moshe Azman, the Rabbi of Brodsky Synagogue in Kyiv and Head of the All-Ukrainian Congress of Jewish Hasidic Religious Communities, could not stand it and recorded an emotional video message. With a huge scroll of the Torah in his arms, he could barely hide his indignation, at times turning almost to a shout:
“I am the father to 11 children and I have 24 grandchildren. I was born on the Neva, in the hero city of Leningrad. As a 12-year-old boy, my father went through the blockade and told me about the horrors caused by hunger and bombing. My relatives died on the fronts of the Second World War, and many were awarded medals. My uncles and aunts beat fascists in partisan units in Belarus.”
The reaction to the crimes of the Russian army, public support of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the defenders of Azovstal steelworks, and active volunteer work did not go unnoticed in the Russian Federation. Moshe Azman, in the stories of the propagandists, together with other Jews of Ukraine, is depicted either as a “Nazi agent” who supposedly helps to hide weapons and ammunition in the synagogue, or as a victim of the Security Service of Ukraine who carries out orders under the muzzles of machine guns.
Below is the direct speech of Moshe Azman.
Empire of lies
I was born in Leningrad, my wife is from Kharkiv.
There was no synagogue in Kharkiv, only a prayer house on the corner of Valerianivska and Grekivska in the 80s of the last century. Mostly elderly people gathered there. My future father-in-law, once a great engineer, was also there.
I still remember the time in 1986 when the police tried to take me into custody at Kharkiv’s railway station. I came to my wedding with friends and witnesses. All of them had big beards (smiles).
At first, they followed us, and then they said: “Open your suitcases, you have stolen things!”
Even in the USSR there were laws, but people did not know them, they lived without rights. When a police officer approached the person, the citizen already felt guilty and did not know what to do. However, I was very savvy. And when they wanted to search, I asked them to present a warrant. The policemen were confused.
They wanted to arrest us for nothing, just like that. Just because we had a “suspicious” look.
“There was strong anti-semitism in the Soviet Union. I felt it starting from school. And it happened in Leningrad, which was visited by foreigners. And then the policy of tolerance was tried to be imitated in such big cities as Moscow and St. Petersburg,” said Moshe Reuven Azman.
The USSR was an empire of lies. The slogans did not correspond to reality. I believe that the Soviet government was created by a bunch of bandits: Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin… Everything they said and promised was a lie.
They allegedly fought for peace in the whole world, but in reality, they pursued an imperialist policy and threatened with weapons. They talked about fraternal nations, friendship, and equality, but xenophobia flourished within the country. They promised factories to workers, and land to peasants, but turned people into slaves, forcing them into collective farms, and returning to serfdom.
It was like that in everything. Everything was a lie, with which Ukraine is now fighting. This lie has an end. Today we are witnessing the metastases of the empire. It will fall like a house of cards soon, like the Soviet Union, which was much more powerful than the Russian Federation.
The finest hour
The war will put everything in its place.
It’s the finest hour in Ukraine. A chance to make a fair country without corruption, thieves and corrupt judges. Moreover, it should be done now, without waiting for the end of the battle.
Many people talk about dishonest deputies, politicians, and ministers, and it is right. But everyone has to start with themselves first. When a kitchen worker takes out food without permission, it is also theft.
When the cleaning lady takes home some chemicals, she is also engaged in theft. She can say: “What did I get there? How much is it worth?” It doesn’t matter how much, even if it’s one hryvnia. Today one hryvnia, tomorrow one hundred, and then two hundred. The cleaner will then become a deputy, and earn millions or billions of dollars (laughs).
Many people who have everything continue to steal. This mentality must be eliminated. It is not a good idea to infect youth with this behavior.
When the Jewish people left Egypt, they walked in the desert for forty years, so that the generation of slaves disappeared. It took some time. Now I already see a new generation of people in Ukraine who understand that money is needed and can be earned honestly.
“Ukraine has already won, we just need to consolidate the victory. The time to act has come. In particular, we should help the heroes on the front line from the rear. Their unity and self-sacrifice saved Ukraine, which no one gave a chance in this war,” said Moshe Azman.
You asked me if Putin can be compared to Golem [in Jewish legend an artificially created human being brought to life by supernatural means – ed.]
Russia could have gone the other way: to realize the crimes of Stalin and the whole gang. Russians were supposed to ban the Communist Party and hold a trial over the crimes of communism in the early 1990s. Lenin had to be buried. They had to get down on their knees and wash off all this blood and cleanse the karma. But they didn’t.
They wanted to restore the USSR. They began to say that Stalin was good! He killed millions of Soviet people. Hitler was also a terrible villain, but he killed other people, not his own. These slaves, when they were shot, shouted: “Long live Comrade Stalin!”This is a diagnosis!
Do they want it all back? Do they not understand that they will suffer? This is a crocodile and this monster will eat its own.
The Golem you mentioned earlier, grinds first others, and then its own. A terrible system of cannibalism has formed in Russia, in which, the guilty in the country will be looked for after foreign enemies. They will first be ministers, then bourgeois, oligarchs, and finally the nation itself.
Russia devalued the victory in the Second World War, turned it into a propaganda tool and privatized the victory over fascism, which belongs to many peoples.
The winners in Russia were replaced by those who created a dark, murderous ideology in their memory.
All foreign media first of all ask me about Nazism in Ukraine. I’m already tired of answering (laughs): Russians need to denazify themselves first. What have you come to denazify? Mariupol, Kharkiv? Neither the Ukrainians, nor the Russians, nor the Jews asked you for this.
Russians did a very simple thing: for years they speculated on the topic of fascism and supported the image of non-humans who kill, torture and burn. You can do anything with such inhumans: kill them, run over them with a tank. Any execution, even the most sophisticated, will be appropriate because he is a “fascist”, or “SS”.
They depopulated Ukrainians for years and called them “fascists”. Now, a Russian soldier is committing crimes in Ukraine. He believed it was possible to wipe all people off the planet – women, and even children because there are non-humans here.
“Everything crystallized after February 24. Suddenly it turned out that there are so many decent, patriotic, and responsible people around,” said Moshe Azman.
Russians still cannot “eat” the fact that the President of Ukraine is a Jew. For them, it is like a bone in the throat. Everything seemed to be in order, and then something went wrong.
An American rabbi friend of mine sent today his interview with a woman who came to Israel from Izyum. Her husband, son, and mother died under the bombs in front of her eyes. She told how she spent several days with the dead and how she got out of there and how the Russians did not even provide her with medical care.
Denazification? The rockets landed in Babyn Yar. They also hit a monument in Drobytsky Yar in Kharkiv. Two synagogues were destroyed in Mariupol. The Jewish cemeteries in Bila Tserkva and Hlukhiv were affected. The projectile hit the roof of the Kharkiv yeshiva (a religious, educational institution – ed).
We have fallen community members. Journalist Zoreslav Zamoyskyy was killed in Bucha. He was very quiet and I didn’t even know he was a journalist. I buried him, there were traces of violent death and bullet wounds on him.
The 93-year-old Righteous Among the Nations Oleksandr Slobodianyk from the Kherson region died recently. He saved Jews during the Second World War, and now he had to flee with his family from the Russian occupation. We helped them settle in Lubny. But he died there, he could not stand this war.
The Jews in Russia perceive this war in different ways. But this applies not only to the Jews but also to all other nationalities.
Avigdor Nosikov, a former rabbi of the Voronezh region, called me the day before yesterday. A good man, he and I once sat together in the European Jewish Parliament. He did not agree with the war, he left everything and departed from Russia.
There are people there who understand everything, who do not agree. For example, the former Chief Rabbi of Moscow, Pinchas Goldschmidt, just put down the keys and left too. He acted with dignity. He lived there for 30 years and had his community and position in society, but I think he made the right decision.
Some are silent and afraid to say something because they can be imprisoned. And there are zombified ones. I got a call from an old friend, a normal guy, he was in Ukraine, he saw everything himself, but he is sure that I was zombified.
Our holy books say: do not judge your fellow man until you have stood in his place. But I can judge because I’ve been there. I was in the USSR, I was interrogated by the KGB. I left the “scoop” because I did not agree with his lies and evil. And now I would do the same as Goldschmidt – I would leave everything.
“All of us who are currently in Ukraine are vulnerable. The civilian even in the rear is in danger because a rocket can fly. But we are free people here. I can support the President or speak out against him,” Moshe Azman.
When you are free, your conscience is clear.
If the Jews of Russia hear me, I would advise them to repatriate. So far, it is easier to travel from there than from the USSR, but the iron curtain is gradually closing.
People are now in more safety (although temporarily), but in a spiritual sense, they are slaves in Russia. They are afraid of and play along with the authorities, which do real evil.
You should fear only the Almighty. There is such a Hasidic song: “I fear no one but God alone.”
The sixth Lubavitch Rabbi Yitzchak was arrested by the communists and threatened with execution in 1927. When one chekist put a muzzle to his temple, the Rebbe replied: “This can scare someone who has one world and many gods. I have one God and two worlds.”
But something went wrong
I see the soon coming of Mashiach [Messiah – ed.] Something is happening here in Ukraine (long pause).
Israel was talked about in all the news, in newspapers and on television before. It was talked about more than India or China, where billions of people live (smiles). The small state suddenly became interesting for everyone.
What about Israel? Oh, something happened to the Palestinian prisoner, someone didn’t give him food, so to speak. And everyone starts shouting about it, although, at the same moment, millions of people are starving somewhere in Rwanda, and no one cares.
Now suddenly Ukraine has become the main one. Now every child knows about this country. President Zelenskyy is applauded by the parliaments of various states. It was Ukraine that came to the center of the world’s attention.
There is something mystical about what is happening in and around Ukraine.
There is no need to explain that the truth is right here. If someone does not understand this, then this is the clinic.
“Broken equipment of the Russian Federation was shown on Khreshchatyk on Independence Day. I am not a prophet and, to be honest, I could not have imagined such a thing half a year ago,” said Moshe Azman.
By February 24, it was clear to everyone what the power of the Russian army was: many tanks, guns, missiles, planes, and ships. And Ukraine almost doesn’t have a navy, nuclear weapons, almost no aviation left. And so it stood up to such a monster!
I am sure that what is happening is, first of all, God’s help. It is obvious. Secondly, all this is the merit of Ukrainians. The scriptures say: those who come to be purified are helped from above.
The West didn’t do much until Ukraine started to fight for itself. They believed Ukraine would collapse. They wanted to send a plane to Zelenskyy to help him escape. Everyone decides for himself. Then suddenly, something went wrong…
Freedom of choice is something that everyone has. The Almighty will join all those who fight for good and show unity. The Tower of Babel was constructed by people who were united, but they were united in a bad cause. That is why the tower fell.
Ukrainians protect their land, country, wives, husbands, children and parents. They do it selflessly, sacrificing their lives.
The Almighty sees this and helps Ukraine.