Today (Wednesday), representatives of the Jewish community of Kyiv led by Yonatan Markovitch, Rabbi of Kiev and chief Chabad emissary, planted seven trees at the Babi Yar memorial in commemoration of the 6 million Jewish lives taken by the Nazis and their henchmen. The ceremony dedicated to the International Holocaust Remembrance Day was attended by The Ambassador of Israel to Ukraine Joel Lyon,

Head of the Department of culture, education and national minorities of the German Embassy in Ukraine Katarina Schaupp-Karmann, Israeli honorary consul to Ukraine, Oleg Vishnyakov, vice-chairman of the United States diplomatic mission  Joseph Pennington,  chairman of “Israel-Ukraine” parliamentary committee and people’s deputy, Alexander Kunitskiy, UN Program coordinator in Ukraine Osnat Lubrani, ambassadors of Lithuania, Poland, Morocco and Croatia, diplomats, and members of the Ukrainian parliament.

The ceremony was held in an abbreviated format due to COVID-related restrictions. The event was broadcast on the Facebook pages of the Kyiv Jewish community, UN Mission to Ukraine and EU Delegation. “Tomorrow Jews all over the world are celebrating Tu b’Shevat,” Rabbi Yonatan Markovitch said. “On this day, we have a custom of planting trees that will shoot upward and will bear their fruit. Today, we are planting the trees in order to commemorate the Jews of Kyiv massacred at Babi Yar. These saplings will grow tall to memorialize the lives lost, yet we won’t be able to enjoy their fruits when they ripen. The Jewish community of Ukraine is growing and thriving, despite all the hardships and trials brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. This will continue for years to come, as we cherish the memory of our fellow Jews killed in this land.”

In 1941, German troops captured the city of Kyiv. A few days later, the Nazis ordered that all the Jews report to a designated located in the vicinity of a cemetery in Babi Yar. “Those who defy the orders will be killed,” read the flyers posted all over the city. The next day, the Jews that did report to the site were ordered to strip down, following which they were all executed by fire over a ravine. An astounding 33,171 of the Kyiv Jews were massacred there over the span of two days – September 29 and 30. Another 15,000 Jews were executed by the Nazis in the following days. A total of more than 100,000 people were killed at Babi Yar over the course of two years, half of which were Jews.

According to a recent survey conducted by DirectPolls in Israel, 48 percent of young people aged between 18 and 29 have no idea in which historical period this bloodbath happened at Babi Yar. Only 33 percent of respondents could say the tragedy took place during World War II.