Saturday, November 24, 2012

When Stomachs Are Full Or Empty: The Shame Of Holodomor

When Stomachs Are Full Or Empty: The Shame Of Holodomor

The national emblematic animal we have in Israel is undoubtedly the cow, the nourishing milky Israeli cow. One of the most conflicting issues we face today is "food" and how to eat properly, decently, with measure in order to avoid growing fat or “phat” and distort the image of human forms.

The "few extra pounds" can dramatically change into full overweight that endangers life and flexibility, even at the mental level. This is known, for example, that the Samoan people in the Pacific Ocean islands were put on a strict diet. North Americans have also their reputation connecting hours of television with junk food. Hebrew slang "jank/ז'אנק" corresponds to fat, unhealthy food basically due to laziness and absence of body motion.

Look at the children at 2 pm. in the Old City; small Arabs boys and girls, teens swallow over-sugar junk, always the same candies. The kids grow fat very quickly. Same hour, another day in a city bus, Jewish pupils and elder people "nosh" huge munchies, full of oil, French fries or choco-something with strudels and various cakes. Oily King and Queen Size pizzas...

In restaurants, the tables are still full of half-crunched plates. They will be thrown to the trash because the Law is very strict - at least it is health-centered! But what a waste of food and quite often of very expensive dishes. At the same time, all kinds of wonderful volunteering associations distribute more and more food to impoverished families that are more and more in dire indigence. I know families whose kids go every night to bed with only two yoghurts or so. This is in Jerusalem and other cities of the country.

In Europe, privation and poverty lead the association and benefactors to create Winter "food providing centers and points" and hunger is a major concern everywhere, also affecting so-called "wealthy" states as the United States...

It is a must and a real mitzvah to share meals, ot only to invite to banquets. Isaiah said that people could come and eat freely = gratis; it is not that clear in English. Matthew 10:8 repeats the basic rule "You received freely, give freely".

Food and distribution of food to everybody has always been a major concern in the Jewish tradition. Middle-Easterners have suffered from hunger and famine throughout history. This is why the "Birkat HaMazon/ברכת המזון - Blessing (after) of Meal(s)" is a positive commandment that cannot be swallowed up speedily. "Eretz chemdah\ארץ חמדה - a nice (because nurturing) earth" whose fruit and plants are excellent.
As mentioned in the prayer's psalm: "yachlu anavim | veyisba'u\יאכלו ענוים- וישבעו - let the lowly eat | and be satisfied" (Psalm 22:27), food does not only aim to nurture or feed, but also to satisfy and rejoice the belly, i.e. individuals and collectivities. Food is a challenging question for survival. In the TaNaCH, "hunger/r"av = רעב-ה" is a significant plague that attacks a region on regular basis.

The Middle-East region has always been endangered by the conquest of desert and wilderness over nature and fields. The soil can become emptied or dried out and crops disappear. Hebrew makes no distinction between "hunger" and "famine" which is a rather high-level wide-spread epidemic catastrophe. "Ra'av\רעב" means people are hungry or affected by a famine. Talmud Bava Bathra 8b states that "famine is a severer affliction than war". Chapter 5:8 of the "Pirkey Avot\פרקי אבות - Sayings of the Fathers" insists on the fact that the "sacrificial meat never became putrid” and that God always provided with space and abundance.
There is an insightful but so obvious statement in Sukka 52b: "a small organ is in man (stomach), when you starve it is is satisfied; when you satisfy it, it is hungry". “Re’avon\רעבון” also means “hunger, famine” as in Kohelet Rabba V:10: “Did the Lord give the manna as food of famine in scantiness?” whereas “ra’avtan\רעבתון” is a voracious eater, a glutton and a greedy person that eats on his own, i.e. that he does not restrict his appetite for drink (Talmud Bava Betsia 25b).

In the Bible, famine and hunger alternate with periods of abundance appeared from Genesis and the warning to Joseph who interpreted Pharaoh’s bovine dreams. Somehow, he finally anticipated the miracle of manna in the wilderness; famines are indeed worse than wars and gave a push to conquerors when Jerusalem was besieged during the time of the two destructions of the Temples. The Book of Lamentation/Eycha-איכה cries out a profound distress as mothers were eating theirs kids (Lamentation 3:20). A horrible question that makes “swallow” or frentically eat up, a sort of disease made of anxiety and lust for short-term satisfaction that sways up between overweight or anorexia for young girls and women.

Eating is also the banquet like the “se’udah hashlishit\סעודה השלישית – third Shabbat meal” when the tzadik shares the meat and delivers his teaching: word becomes a banquet or a festive “farbrengen\פארברענגען” (ingathering). The same as when Jesus asked his disciples to feed the crowd on the mount and they were reluctant considering the people could go and buy the food (Matthew 14:13, Luke 9:13). In the Eastern Orthodox Church, one similarly uses to blessing five loaves, grains, oil and wine as sharing “lechem\לחם – bread” that remains “lachma\לחמא-ה – meat, flesh” in Arabic and consists in distributing food to the full (cf. the plentiful measure of barley gathered by Ruth 3:15).

Harvesting is a feast everywhere and whatever religious beliefs. Thus, in fall 1621, the Mayflower pilgrims shared the bread with the native Indians who were having their Keepunumuk = harvest feast. Nice partaking of fowl, fish, wheat and corn as in so many parts of the world.  President Abraham Lincoln’s intuition of a national day for all the Americans to thank God for the homeland’s wealth was a bit prophetic but not realistic at that time. It became possible in 1863.

Interestingly, Thanksgiving Day – which as in Canada is a harvest feast –  was determined as the fourth Thursday of November by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1939, by the time of the Great Depression. The law came into force in 1943, during World War II. The day is a secular, national and international turkey festive harvest meal (earlier in October Canada because of the time for harvesting).
Curiously, the final date was defined during the hardships of the Great Depression in which lots of Americans lost their money, suddenly fell in need and meals were distributed all over an impoverished country. At this point, the Goldene Medine\גאלדענע מדינה (“Golden State” in Yiddish) still reckons a huge number of needy and people who do not have enough to eat.

In Israel, huge portions of fat oily pizzas or greasy big hamburgers (that originally were the usual meals for the poor Jews on board to America! Cf. P. Kriwaczek: Yiddish Civilisation, p.311). They settled among nations that always need to chew or absorb food. But he waste is unbelievable.

Turning back to the East and looking to the Ukraine, November 25th is the official Ukrainian national Day of remembrance for all the victims who died of “Holodomor/Голодомор – famine killings, using famine for mass murders”.

The famine was projected as a political way to hunger and thus kill the Ukrainian inhabitants of the Soviet Ukrainian Republic. The word, in Ukrainian comes from “moryty holodom\морити голодом – to let impose death through famine, hunger” as it happened in 1932-1933. Before the first World War, my family was exporting grains from the Ukraine to Europe and the Ukraine was known for “feeding Europe”.
After 1920, the Soviets favored the Ukrainians for a short while, then obliged by law to implement a process collectivization. In these wide regions of rich fields and harvesting where small family farms were normal and often rather big compared to Europe or in our region, collectivization suddenly introduced a system that stopped private properties. This allowed the emergence of less and less productivity.

The government of Moscow decided that a certain amount of grain supply should be delivered in 1932, but by the end of the year, it was clear that the target would not be reached. On January 15, 1933, more than 100.000 people were sentenced either to death or deportation. The government required to be given all the “harvest” and available grains, which drastically provoked the famine. It appears that, contrary to the other famines that afflicted the former Soviet Union from 1921 recurrently till 1947 etc., there has been a political decision to hunger the Ukrainian nation, in particular the peasants who had backed the independence movements in 1917 by the time of the Revolution.

The Soviet government never accepted to recognize this form of extermination of the Ukrainian people, mainly in the agricultural regions. It seems that some grains were provided, still in low quantity. On the other hand, the famine caused the death of ca. 3,2 million people, mostly Ukrainians, but also Russians, Jews, Poles, Volga German and Tatars.

The statistics are not clearly upgraded at the present. They show that these peoples were intentionally submitted to hunger in order to kill them. Nowadays, the Ukraine has defined this period as a “genocide”; other specialists speak of a “mass murder”. It is not possible here to explain all the elements that were interwoven in the backgrounds of the Ukrainian society at that time. Since the early days of this “holodomor/голодомор – famine mass murder” we have had here eyewitnesses who were multi-survivors as so many Jews lived in the Ukraine.

How peculiar that a lot of Jews first fled from the Ukraine to North America where the time of harvesting and getting the crops became a feast of “Thanksgiving”;or others arrived just recently to Israel. Faith often obliges to refrain from eating at certain periods of the year; but never to die of hunger.
Just the opposite: between feeling hungry and “malle\מלא – full, satisfied”, there is the need for wellness. Bread and soup do save.

Av Aleksandr (Winogradsky Frenkel)

Friday, November 9, 2012

NEW DAYS 1 - ימים חדשים א'

  • NEW DAYS 1 - ימים חדשים א'

«Недаром помнит вся Россия про день Бородина! Not in vain does All Russia remember the day of Borodino»
, a word to word translation that is so significant this year. All Russia celebrated with much emotion and sensitivity the great victory at Borodino when Napoleon was kicked out and speedily had to leave the Slavic Tzarist Empire of Holy Russia of the True Orthodox Faith, the "Third Rome" that could resist and face Europe.

The event was not considered with much emotion in the Western world. Some historians did recall it in Israel, but just because there are many Slavs in the new State of the Jews. Russia has a great sense of history on the long-term basis. "Wait and see" sounds European, "Patience and tolerance/wisdom" was pretty much Albert Einstein when he made the statement in 1938 about the creation of a Hebrew State. Doubts and hesitations. "Geduld und Weisheit" in German. Archbishop Aristarchos' constant motto to me in our discussions over the past fifteen years at the Greek/Rum-Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem. We speak German and he might some day even get to some Yiddish. At least, I spoke a few words in Yiddish with Pope Benedict XVI when he visited us. At hte moment, the archbishop is getting to Russian.

In a very short paragraph, numerous identities and backgrounds are mentioned on a world that changes; no way to stop the move. An elderly pope, a very kind archbishop that is the pnevmatikos/duchovnik - spiritual guide and the hierarch who has the official blessing to hear the confession and release the members of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, eventually in many tongues. In 2001, he became the General Secretary of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem. For years he had read the Gospel in Hebrew on Easter Sunday. He did understand and accept me to take his place. As other clergy of the Patriarchate, he had studied Hebrew at the University of Jerusalem. There is a small group of Greek hierarchs who still meet and speak Hebrew, which makes a difference. They are likely to open up to the "new State and human reality of the Israeli society".

Indeed, Metropolitan Christodoulos (the Dragoman - in charge of the respect of the rules of the Patriarchate) and Archbishop Aristarchos studied at the University of Jerusalem, just the way the Melkite Hierarch Elias Chacour did. New generation and new prospects. The Greek clergy was not born in the country: they arrived in Jordan. They are "headquartering"  today under the Israeli law, i.e. an administration that brought the Jews to exercise the control over the holiest places of Christianity in Jerusalem. The Christians were used to the Ottoman administration, the British, the Jordanians. They had never thought of any Hebrews.

The Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem - as all Christian denominations - still depend on the Jordanian King in Jordan and would never dare dispute the right of the Hashemite dynasty, son of King Hussein who was saved by the Greek Orthodox monks on the Temple Mount when his father King Abdullah was murdered on July 21, 1951. The King of Jordan is a Muslim; on the hall of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem there is a photograph of King Hussein as also a copy of the Achtiname, the Decree signed in 637 A.D. given by Caliph Omar Ibn al Omar to Patriarch Sophronios, the then-representative of all the Christians that lived in Jerusalem. The nascent Islamic rule accepted to spare the Christians and the Jews and the law is still meaningful and in force at the present.

Archbishop Aristarchos was appointed as Secretary General of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem by the now deposed Monk and former Patriarch Irenaios of Jerusalem who was elected in 2001. He replaced Metropolitan Timotheos of Vostra who had been in charge of the Secretary General of Jerusalem over 20 years and was assigned to the office by late Patriach Diodoros who elected in 1981 by the Holy Synod of Jerusalem. He passed away on December 20, 2000. Metropolitan Kornelios was then chosen as locum tenens (managing patriarch) until the election of Patriarch Irenaios. Metropolitan Timotheos was the second candidate to challenge Metropolitan Irenaios in the "race" to take the place of Patriarch Diodoros.

Metropolitan Timotheos of Vostra - as other members of the Greek Orthodox members of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher - had spent many years in the former Soviet Union. he studied at the Theological Academy of Leningrad and became a spiritual son of late Metropolitan Nikodim who incidentally died in the arms of late Pope John Paul I of Rome.

Metropolitan Irenaios - who had spent many years as  the Exarch-Representative of the Holy Sepulcher in Athens - was chosen to the See of Jerusalem and intended to change different things. This was quite difficult for diffierent internal and external reasons. The Israeli government did not recognize him till late 2004. In between, huge internal re-structuring was considered to be conveyed and Archbishop Aristarchos had the task to pave the way to renew the Patriarchate in his quality of Secretary General.

In 2005, Archbishop Aristarchos appealed to many members of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem. They decided to require the remoting of the then-acting Patriarch Irenaios. On May 24, 2005, a special pan-Orthodox Synod convened under the authority of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomaios of Constantinople and confirmed the deposition, calling to the election of a new patriarch of Jerusalem.

Archimandrite Theophilos was firstly assigned as the archdeacon of Patriarch Benediktos of Jerusalem who still has a great prestige in the Church. The great hierarch had allowed the encounter of Pope Paul VI with Patriarch Athenagoras in 1964 in Jerusalem. and was consacrated to episcopacy by Patriarch Irenaios in February 2005. The new archbishop of Tabor and the Holy Sepulcher (a new position that did not exist previously) studied in Athens, at the University of Jerusalem and also - this should be noted - at Durham, the Anglican place that is the See of the newly elected Archbishop of Canterbury, the Rt. Rev. Justin Welby.

It meant that, in accordance with a general ruling that had been in power for centuries, the head of the traditional local Church of Jerusalem is a Greek. This can lead to numerous interrogations and troubles, denials, rejections or whatsoever. This has been and still will be for long a heritage that tracks back to more than any tradition. the price is quite special for the Church as a whole, the Body of Christ "in totality". It is a requirement to fight phyletism and the members of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem are indeed aware of the fact. This is another question whether to know how to open up the local Church to the reality of "universality". The Church of Jerusalem has discovered and must face the fundamentals of a full "holy, Catholic and orthodox and apostolic" substantial "embodiement of the fulfillment of all promises in the resurrected Lord. The Greek are astoundedly more "neutral" in the present context", avoid all sorts of local nationalism bording on true "phyletism" and they trace back to Byzantinism as it has been from old in the Middle-East. Greek culture is also connecting the local Christians to the "wide world", the close-by Greek society and the language created most European languages and some Semitic tongues (Talmudic Aramaic).

One thing needs to be said and this is not correctly understood by many commentators. The Patriarchate of Moscow is head managed by senior Church members who have a long experience of terrible troubles, persecutions. The Russian Church has also to show that it is reviving, strong-minded and quite powerful. This will be confirmed or denied in the coming decades. At the moment, the Russian orthodox Church could gather together all the different tendencies that exist in the Russian Church, avoiding real and significant split.

With regards to Jerusalem, all things being considered, the traditional position of the Patriarchate of Moscow is to respect and thus comply with the decisions taken by official Orthodox synods. This is why Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem and the leaders of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem would hardly be denied and there would be no "coup" to remove the "governing team". On the other hand, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem will have to recognize that the Church came to a turn some twenty years ago with the "perestroika/перестройка". it means that in the course of the forthcoming decades, the Patriarchate of Jerusalem will have to evolve whereas to become some "international place of delegation and representation" for all the Orthodox of the world. This will take time and the Rum Orthodox (Roman Orthodox) move is on the way. it maybe not so evident for the faithful and the different nations of the world.

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow wisely declared upon his arrival at Ben Gurion that some fifty years ago only 2 (two) people could visit the Holy Land and come to Jerusalem. The Soviet Union management never cancelled the relationships between the two patriarchates. The Patriarchate of Jerusalem has a metochion in Moscow. Archimandrite Theophilos spent two years as the Exarch of the Holy Sepulcher there. Archbishop Theophilaktos of Bethlehem studied in Moscow and remained the exarch of the Holy Sepulcher (Patriarchate of Jerusalem) till he was called back to Jerusalem after the election of Irenaios...

The arrival of Soviet newcomers buzzed with excitation all the local Churches in the Holy Land. They did not migrated to the Holy Land. They came back to Israel as having a birthright following the "Law of Return" that allowed Jews and their non-Jewish family - if any - to return to Zion and Jerusalem.

There are no "Russians or Ukrainians or Latvians or.." in the State of Israel. Indeed, they came from the Slavic cultural area. As President Shimon Peres declared at Moscow, the whole of Israel as a modern state has profoundly been shaped upon the arrival of immgrants from the Eastern Europe, Tzarist Empire, Bolshevik Revolution and Soviet Union of different republics under Russian influence. In Israel, they are "Israelis". This is new and rarely perceived adequately.

The State of Israel questions the Churches. It does interrogate the Patriarchate of Moscow on the mood this reviving structure can accept and recognize to the full the existence of the Hebrew society that is definitely relevant.

The State of Israel will never hinder the Christians to visiting the Holy Land sites. Indeed, there is a change: decades ago, the people in charge of the religious affairs were far more educated about Christianity in Israel. On the other hand, the Hebrew State has a lot of specialists, university researchers, ordinary people that are interested in the parallel develop of Christianity and Judaism on this soil of Canaan that was given to the full to Abraham and his descents as a promise of benediction beyond generations, all through the ages.

It maybe significant that Patriarch Kirill landed at Lydda-Lod on the eve of Shabbat Chaye Sarah/שבת חי שרה (Genesis 23: 1 - 25: 18), how Abraham could manage to get a pice of land to bury his wife Sarah. "Not a iota, not a "tag" of the Law/Torah will pass that all will be accomplished" (Matthew 5:18).

Archpriest Alexander A. Winogradsky Frenkel

Thursday, November 1, 2012

In 312 A.D. - 1700 Years Ago

In 312 A.D. – 1700 Years Ago

October 28th, 2012. On the same day, the Jews celebrate this year the passing away of Rachel Immenu/רחל אמנו or "Rachel, our Matriarch", the beloved wife of Jakob-Israel. She died on Heshvan 11, 1553 years before C.E., i.e. 3.565 years ago according to the Jewish traditional comput. On the same day, the Jews also commemorate the death of Mathuselah that tracks back to 3.668 years ago, again after the Hebrew "calendar".

In both cases, Judaism turns on this peculiar day to the most ancient and venerable ancestors. They seem to be "virtual". Many would think they are symbolic or include the lives of different individuals that have lived along sequential followings of generations. Each personality is meaningful and modern Jews, as well as all the monotheists, can trace back till the remote times of the human call to faith and trsut in the Divine Presence, the One Most High Lord.

It maybe a sign that in this year the Muslims come today to the festive night of the Aid-al-Adha, the Sacrifice of the Lamb.

This implies that all mankind is significantly drawn into spiritual search and much powerful dates that mark history. There is a real desire or nostalgia that days are not passing away like dried bones or leaves. On the contrary, our years and ages are supposed to lead us to pertinence, coherence. They challenge the "mish-mash or tohu wabohu" by overcoming any presupposed idea our being out of "nowhere and no hope".
On the other hand, historic memory can be very short-sighted. In the Sixties, surely as a consequence of the various dramas that affected Europe, the Catholic Church called the Second Council of the Vatican to gather in at Rome. The Second World War and the Iron Curtain that had fenced Europe and the world appealed to open up the barriers of stiff traditions and frames. By that time, the Orthodox Churches could not participate at the same level and with the same decisional right of some noticeable equilibrium.

Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople and Pope Paul VI could meet in 1964 in Jerusalem with the assistance of Patriarch Benediktos of Jerusalem. The lifting of the anathema that took place there could pave the way to conclude the Council of Vatican II. At the present, things have changed because most of the Eastern Orthodox Churches were not free to ascertain any official positions on the different matters discussed at the planetarian and universal level of the "Ecclesia Universa".

The Council of Vatican II could further convince the Roman Catholic Church that it is the first and sole "decider" in terms of Church regulation. It should be repeated that the article taken in Lumen Gentium 48 that "the Body of Christ is larger that the Catholic Church" is a part of the liturgical statement that the Church is wide, great, large, profound and broad (St. Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians 3:18).

The Roman Canon Missæ summarizes this in a magnificent phrasing during the Eucharistic anaphora: "pacificare, custodire, adunare et regere digneris toto orbe terrarum: una cum famulo Papa nostro N. et Antistite nostro N. et omnibus orthodoxis, atque catholicae et apostolicae fidei cultoribus/ to pacify, safeguard, unite and reign over all the earth; with our Pope N. and our Bishop N. and all those who practice the Orthodox and Catholic and Apostolic faith (put into practice the faith that is "upright, authentic, glorious" as also "open to the totality/ kath'olon" and the moving forward and bringing the good news of the Kingdom).

At the present, these definitions are distorted and split among several jurisdictions, obediences and Churches. They are embattled in showing their good right and true heritage.

A major event took place on October 28th, 312. We do move on and "survive" on this intuition that overcame Emperor Constantine who ruled over the Roman Empire. On this day, he had a special vision at the Milvian Bridge that a sign, described as the Chrisma or sign of the Cross of Jesus of Nazareth, would ensure his victory or rather lead him to conquer... freedom and tolerance in the name of the everlasting Light of Christ.

It took a long time before Emperor Constantine truly accepted Christianity to the full. He supposedly was readily a "closet" believer when he left Gaul. Born in Serbia, his father had died in York. His mother, Saint Helena, was a very strong-minded and convinced Christian "matriarch" who eagerly sought the history of the faith and wanted to fix the bases of True Faith in its authentic context.

She led Constantine to dedicate a large part of his life and thurst for conquest to ascertainingthe basis of the nascent Christian religion. It was evident, at that time, to be prfoundly "European and internationally minded".
Other people have accounted that Constantine had a vision at Noon just before the battle at the Mulvian Bridge had begun. Eusebius wrote that Constantine told him personally about his vision in the sky: "Hoc signo vinces/ In this (sign), you will conquer, win, be victorious". The Greek phrase is more coherent as "  εν τούτῳ νίκα " should have been accompanied by the specific sign of the Chrisma or (chi) and (rho)  ☧, i.e. the two letters that are part of the Greek name of "Christ = Χριστός".

Constantine spent most of his life as an "unclear believer". By the time of the battle, he got persuaded that the Sun who was venerated by the pagans had turned to be true in the Son of Man, the Messiah Jesus Christ proclaimed by the Early Church. For three centuries, the believers had to suffer mockery and persecution. Constantine had no tactical reason to accept the Christian faith: the elite, hierarchy, managers of the Roman Empire were mostly pagans.

Indeed, Christianity brought new features, unknown to those who worshipped idols and false gods. For example, it was quite difficult for a woman to get a proper answer from a goddess like Aphrodite. The deity was supposed to give pre-determined responses. When women started to address Mary, the Mother of Jesus, it substantially changed the relationship of the individuals and the community to a person that linked life, death and resurrection, silence, confidence and everlasting life, i.e. atonement.

Over the past 1700 years, the history of the Church showed a rich and apparently expanding competence to conquer, settle and, quite often, submit numerous nations. To begin with, Christianity as we share it at the present was born from the Battle at Milvian Bridge. It appears like a sort of "encounter beyond time and space, diachronic and synchronic layers" that the Church commemorates on October 28/15, 2012.

The event is not much present to Church agenda. Most Churches are involved in open or silent, underground conflicts of interests. This deals with the new order of modern societies after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire ("finalized" in 1922), the end of World War II (1945-7) and the emergence of new States in the Mashrek and the Maghreb, with the new  official State of Israel. The fall of the Communist regime in many countries of Eastern Europe and thus the split of the Union of the Socialist Soviet Republics allowed the Eastern rite Churches to rise up anew. Each Church and all the Church jurisdictions try to re-define their policy, territory and authority.

Most councils did work at some "ecumenical" level that can be denied by one or more jurisdictions, in particular by some local Orthodox Churches (Patriarchate of Moscow and most Orthodox patriarchates and recognized autocephalous Orthodox Churches mentioned in the diptychs). Today, different conferences and encounters celebrate the decisions taken, inter alia, during the Second Council of the Vatican (1965). By the same time, other international meetings continue to envision the possibility of a pan-Orthodox Council.
Objectively speaking, things are somehow special. Ecumenical councils went broken down from the time of the first Ecumenical Council at Ephesus (325) when the Assyrians/Nestorians left the Common Church. Still, a real ecumenical council should track back to 787 AD. and reconnect with the Eastern Orthodox Churches that emerged from the catacombs after the fall of the Communist power, thus only 20 years ago.

A real Ecumenical Council would pre-suppose that all Churches being totally equal and considered as at the same level of authority and rules of Canon Laws could gather together and revive, revise and bounce the dynamic forces of the living Body of the One Who is proclaimed as the Son of Man.

This is not the case at the moment. We are indeed in a time of "identification" of al the Churches.
The vision that enlightened Constantine at the Battle of the Mulvian Bridge had other acumens, insightful intuitions and perceptions. They progressively became more chromatic, not symphonic, but quite segmented. Some scholars would consider that the Christian world is totally split. We have this view in Jerusalem. Heretics remain heretics and feuds; many New World believers may arrive at Jerusalem and pretend that one father and his father have opened a new Church duly recognized by the legal system of their local State and admitted within the Union.

We would this call a "balagan-disorder", maybe the bipolar social schizophrenia linked to constant will of power, might and managing of the souls with the pretence to release them from all constraints and possible yokes?

Years ago, I was invited to participate in the "revision of the first Jerusalem Synod-Council" decision that took place in Jerusalem in 49-52 AD. The event aimed at gathering Catholics and Messianic Jews and at "re-considering the balance" between Jews and Gentiles" whereas to repair the progressive rejection of the Jews from the Holy, Orthodox and Catholic and Apostolic Church. How is it possible for an official Catholic entity to dare suggest that the Messianics should join the Church in totality? How comes that being gathered all together, the faithful could make a repair and claim that there are "true Jews" among them and, subsequently, they could rebuild and heal the tragic ecclesiastical mishaps?

It was so amazing to see "Gentile faithful" bowing in some praying extasy before the Jewish (or so, not that clear) members of the group!? Psychedylic?! They were dear friends. There were among them very talented and respectful theologians.

But how can they even come to the idea that no Church would ever accept that OK. let's track back to the first beginnings and make the whole scene anew...! It is sad if not pathetic. Pathetic because we are not the masters of history. We can only manage not capture what we inherit from old, especially with regards to what concerns love, hate, wrongdoings, total confusion of sentiments and long-distance relationships. We are not allowed to play with this.

This is why the victory at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312 should allow to considering the long journey that we have gone through the illusions of centuries. Over the ages, Christianity has spread and it continues to sway over the world. It appears and disappears. it means that the Church moves ahead of history with the Words of an everlasting call. It glimpses, goes back and forth. In 312, i.e. only 1700 years ago it called the heathens/pagans to act with tolerance toward Faith.

1700 years have passed, nearly two mellenia, two thousand years. This paves the way to more diversity. Faith does not depends on us only, it also depends on how God looks at us. This, we can't know. it only belongs to Him and how He wants to entrust us and the future generations.

Av Aleksandr (Winogradsky Frenkel)

November 1, 1944: The Repose Of Metropolitan Andrew Sheptytsky

November 1, 1944: the repose of Metropolitan Andrew Sheptytsky

Each year, I am glad to write something on late Meztropolitan Andrii Sheptytsky who died on November 1st, 1944 under the communist rule in Ukraine. 68 years have passed. His personality will definitely question the Church, Judaism, Israel, the Jewish authorities in charge of determine who acted with exceptional insights during World War II. At the present, the Ukrainian Churches are broken down into several contradictory positions and directions. Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Belarus and the territories that were under control of the Habsburg during the lifetime of Metropolitan Sheptytsky got through new - maybe not final - borders and incite to constant debates on the real space alloted to each nation or so-called State.

Kyr Andrii Sheptytsky was not a Ukrainian nationalist. He lived in a time when East and West rediscovered their long-age Christian traditions. He was well-aware of the deep connections that should be reinstored in his own episcopal territory of Ukriane and Transcarpathia, with incourses into present Hungary, Romania, Poland. His "serving authority" expanded till North and South america, Africa and Australia due to the first large foreign worker emigrations. The Ukrainians had to make their money abroad and often used to come back home or to settle in the diaspora.
Russia was also a part of his canonical territory before and during the Bolshevik Revolution. Things changed drastically after World War II, when all the clergy and lay people were submitted to harsh persecution and extermination. Twenty years ago, the collapse of the communist power created a new situation. Each jurisdiction felt free or "released" in the Slavic area. The Greek Catholics and the Orthodox Church(es) started to measure their influence and redeployment. They could not settle their own disagreements for the moment and this is evident. It will take some time.

The Ukrainian Church is tempted as it has often been throughout the ages. Ukraine is not really defined in stable borders. The whole country and State is more likely to be compared with a "kordon = a rope, frontier" that cannot be fixed and changed a lot in the course of historic turbulences.

The language is very close to Church Slavonic. It has not the prestige of Russian or Polish, is often denied or considered as a sign of strict nationalism. When I pray in Ukrainian along with Hebrew and Yiddish in Jerusalem and Israel, many faithful do not understand why I do so! But they do not think of the fact that we are in a rare situation in the Hebrew State: Jews and Ukrainians could arrive and build the country by working peacefully and legally in Israel while it was absolutely not the case in the Ukraine, from the ancient time of the Tzars, the Yiddishkayt, the civil war and Revolution, the communist rule and the Nazi occupation for a while and only in sqome specific areas in the West.

From 1958 till now, Metropolitan Andrii Sheptytsky has been viewed as through various chromatic kaleidoscope by the Poles, the Ukrainians, the Russians, the Germans, Hungarians, Romanians, Jews and Gyppies, the Byzantine Eastern rite clergy, the Latin clergy and the corresponding flocks.

When Kurt Lewin, the son of the late Rabbi of L'viv who was murdered as he had left the house of the Archbishop major, could hardly explain to the Ukrainian clergy that he met in Innsbrück and Canada what the real situation has been in the Ukraine and the unbelievable courage shown by Metropolitan Andrii. They were more linked to the Nazi fallen Reich. Moreover he was a Jew and his listeners were not that interested in the Patriarch of L'viv saving lives of Jews and non-Jews for the sake of Christian and human rights and decency.

The recent developments of Church relationships and difficulties in trying to resolve the numerous Church entities and multi-faceted "Eastern Orthodox and Eastern rite" bodies could lead to scan history as it appeared in the 20th century by the time of short independence of Ukraine after World War I. One of the elements that could allow a wide prospect of the situation and to compare with present-day evolution is to be found in the English version translated by Fr. Serge Keleher (+ in 2011) of the book written in French by Fr. Cyrille Korolevsky, a great friend and collaborator of Metropolitan Andrii Sheptytsky, Metropolitan of L'viv (L'vov, Lwów, Lemberg, Leopol). The procurator in charge of collecting all the documents is still Mgr. Michael Hrynchynshyn, a Canadian Saskatoon-born Ukrainian bishop who was called to work on this exceptional hierarch in 1958, when the trial of canonization started. Kyr Michael Hrynchynshyn is now retiring from his office in Western Europe, but will definitely continue his service for the recognition of Metropolitan Andrii with much dedication and eager.

I wrote manyoecuménisme, Christianisme oriental, Judaïsme, Ukraine, Orthodoxie notes and articles to Metropolitan Andrii Sheptytsky. Born on 1865/07/29 in Prybylchi (Poland-Ukraine) he died on 1944/11/1 in L'viv. It is again and again possible to mention Prof. Gutman's (former Yad VaShem responsible) that this man of faith was beyond all standards and norms. He spent his life facing permanent aggression from many sides and still acted with wisdom and insights for the good of the Greek Catholic Church of Ukraine, in the mainland and abroad.
He allowed Metropolitan Evlogyi and Archbishop Vladimir appointed by Late St. Patriarch Tikhon of Moscow to reach France and thus to develop the Eastern Orthodox Russian presence in the West.
He is also without contest an exceptional and outstanding personality in the way he worked to help the comprehension of the Jewish identity and culture. In 1916, he organized a great pilgrimage to the Holy Land and there read and spoke Hebrew fluently. In his diocese/eparchy he could spontaneously met in Yiddish and Hebrew with the Jewish communities. We know at the present that he vehemently protested against the deportation and extermination of the Jews to Hitler and Himmler by sending telexes. His famous "Nie Ubyi/Не убий - Thou shalt not kill" pastoral letter sent to all the churches and priests under his responsibility remains a unique act of courage ever shown to that extent by a member of the Christian clergy and high hierarchy. Kurt Lewin ("A Journey Through Illusion" the book has been recently translated into Ukrainian) described how Metropolitan Andrii Sheptytsky directly saved numerous Jews and children by hiding then and protecting them.

Metropolitan Andrii was paralyzed and spent his time in a wheelchair during the last 15 years of his life, he could manage to control the Ukrainian Church in times of unbelievable turbulence, assisted by his brother, Fr. Klement, and a wide network of connections that still kept him isolated during the Communist regime and the second World War.

The Poles accused him of having left the Roman Rite in order to restore the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. He has been in contact with most of the contemporary thinkers (Metropolitan Evlogyi, Vladimir Soloviov) and helped create places of encounter between the Eastern and Western Churches, thus paving the way for a renewed dialogue, such as the Monastery at Chevetogne.

He has been considered as an "overall suspect": twice, he was obliged to manage the invasion of the German army that took control of the Ukraine (Western area) and then to combat the Nazis. He had to face the civil war in the Ukraine, the Bolshevik Revolution, the rise and power of the communists, twice and in different circumstances. Stalin did not dare (and this is also unique) touch the Greek Catholic clergy and waited till the 40th day of mourning was over to seize and deport the clergy.

He has been accused of treason and collaboration with the French and/or the Germans (World War I), the Nazis (World War II), the communists (in between and till his death). Strangely enough - though it is a typical habit, the archives that best depict his actions were to be found in the communist Soviet offices of the KGB.
I often mention his "trudy/труди - works" and would read his sermons or pastoral letters in Ukrainian in my church and on different occasions. This is a very simple matter: undoubtedly, Metropolitan Andrii Sheptytsky's attitudes and personality go far beyond the Ukrainian Church.

It would be a terrible mistake, that sadly often shows at the moment to make an icon of Metropolitan Andrii's dedication and venerate him as a Ukrainian nationalist. On the other hand, he was definitely aware - with the words, style and ideas of his time - that the Church that developed from Kiev and expanded in the Ukraine and the widespread Slavic areas has a specific universal role to play in the symphony of the Body of the Resurrected Lord.

This is not the way people would consider his path at the present. It is suspicious because his personality overgoes all the standards of the clergy hierarchy, in particular in such a troublesome region as Ukraine and the surrounding countries and cultures. He showed an exception character that was not to be found among the Christian clergy during the time of the Catastrophe. Conflicts are easier to mention than unity as he tried to achieve some of his goals in times of incredible hardships.

In Israel, Metropolitan Andrii's actions and thoughts should be a model of reflection upon the situation of Israeli society. Social and inter-cultural, ethnic, spiritual and political problems show intriguing parallels with our building of a new and unexpected human reality. Our society matches and gathers together Jews, Arabs and other ethnic groups, beyond and often against their own will or acceptance.

In many ways, Metropolitan Sheptytsky deals with something that is really close to our turmoil or contemporary "pangs of birth". He answered to hatred by love and strongly called to ethics and moral dynamics with faith.

I definitely do not intend to present the following excerpts of the above mentioned book by some political or religious a-priori's. I would not give an opinion about the troublesome religious situation in the Ukraine in the present. It would by just full of pretence and would restrict and fence the possibility that such a personality allows to open up as he did envision new prospects. Moreover, in the present context, this portion of the text is never referred to and is ignored. It shows that history in the region comes up and up again, with a constant mixture of call to opacity and blindness. As Raphael Lempkin stated with much insight and defined after World War II, the Slavic regions have no real in-depth experience of any legal structure. Therefore, until now, all the nations that live among the concerned people are systematically "slaughtered down" by the absence of real justice. Even Christian "righteousness" is deprived form the local cultural awareness and denied.

It is also worth noting how Metropolitan Andrii finally used to take decisions and keep on the line that underscores the spiritual benefits of the faithful, an aspect rarely expressed by the media nowadays.
Andrew proposed as Ukrainian Patriarch
"Among the many questions demanding the attention of the Ukrainian government (headed by Paul Skoropadsky in 1918-1919) the ecclesiastical organization for the country. What Catholic organization was left in Tsarist Ukraine was all Roman, except for the small Greek-Catholic group which was just beginning to organize at Kiev. Only later, under Petliura's government, was Ukraine represented at the Holy See, first by Count Michael Tyszkiewicz, the scion of an old Ukrainian family which had been Romanised like so many others, and then when the Count was sent to Paris as head of the Ukrainian delegation at the peace conference, by Father François-Xavier Bonne, a Belgian Redemptorist who was serving as a Greek-Catholic so as to help the Ukrainian immigrants in Canada. Father Bonne had come to Galicia and in Count Bobrinskoy's time was named eclesiastical administrator of the district of Ternopil - since he was a Belgian citizen, Bobrinskoy did not dare to expel him. For the moment, Skoropadsky was only concerned for the Orthodox Church.

There of the Russian Church, at the moment when the Bolsheviks were taking power in Moscow. were two parties. Those favourable to a future accord with Russia would wish an arrangement with Patriarch Tikhon (Beliavin) of Moscow, elected on 28 October (O.S.) 1917 by the National Council of the Russian Church, at a moment when the Bolsheviks were taking power in Moscow. In Kiev, this party recognized Metropiltan Anthony (Khrapovitsky), former Archbishop of Volyn, who had been one of the most active propagandists for Orthodoxy in Galicia; he was confirmed as Metropolitan of Kiev by Patriarch Tikhon. Those who demanded complete independence for Ukraine also had to demand ecclesiastical independence with a Ukrainian chief hierarch, according to the customs of the Orthodox Church. As the two groups did not come to any understanding, a council was called for 21 JUne 1918. The autocephalist party dreamed of establishing a Patriarchate at Kiev, like the one in Moscow, although Kiev had nver had a Patriarchate - historically Kiev had been a dependency of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

An attentive observer will realize that the autocephalist party was moved purely by nationalist considerations and thought very little of dogma. This group actually ofered the patriarchal throne to the one who most represented the Ukrainian world in his own person, Metropolitan Andrew Sheptytsky - who was in communion with the Holy See of Rome. If this proposal would have been accomplished it would have had vast consequences, when one considers the significance of ecclesiastical communion according to the Orthodox understanding. Ecclesiastical communion depends uniquely on the head of the particular Church, whom the metropolitans and bishops solemnly commemorate during the services. If this chief hierarch is Catholic, his whole Church is Catholic in view of his communion with the Pope. Since the only point of doctrine which matters for the great majority of the people, and even for the lower clergy, is the recognition of the Papal primacy of honour and jurisdiction, the election of Metropolitan Andrew would have reunited Ukraine to the Catholic Church in one moment. Although this prospect was dubious, one can understand how seriously he took it. However he had to set clearly in a letter to Archduke Wilhelm, the son of Archduke Charles Stephan, the Austrian candidate for an eventual Ukrainian throne. The draft of this letter was later found when the Poles searched the Metropolitan's palace in L'viv; the Poles published it with a photographic facsimile of the beginning and the essential section, in an effort to prove the Metropolitan's political intrigues. No résumé could replace the actual text:

"L'viv, 13 June 1918
I have learned htat one party of the general Synod of the Ukrainian Church which is to assemble one the 21st of this month (the letter is dated) is thinking of offering me the dignity of Ukrainian Patriarch. This initiative is both an expression of opposition to the election of Anthony as Metropolitan of Kiev and a concrete affirmation of the autocephaly, Although the reactionaries are mortally opposed to autocephaly, it nevertheless is the wish of the Ukrainians. The Hetman (Paul Skoropadsky at that time) has declared that if the Synod does not come to a decision on the matter, he will have to grant the autocephaly himself. Should the first eventuality come to pass, I shall inform Your Imerial Highness of the matter andof my eventual position in the affair. I could only accept an absolutely free election by a large majority which would thus have canonical value according to the principles of the Eastern Church. It goes without saying that such an election would by its very fact mean an acceptance of the Church Union. For the moment, the powers which I have received from Pope Pius X are sufficient. Naturally, I should also ask the assent of His Majesty.
"At L'viv it is difficult for me to have more exact information. Since people know that I have been in favour of this idea for a long time, they urge me to prepare the election by some propaganda. In principle I would not want to do this, and anyway there is not enough time. If Your Imperial Highness knows or should learn anything on this matter, I would be most grateful to have the information..."

One mus read this letter with great attention. It shows that the Metropolitan was favourable to the idea of the autonomy of the Church in Ukraine, which is completely in accord with the principles of the Eastern Church and to the current practice of the Catholic Church, with the proper understanding of the term "autonomy". In the seventeenth century, there was a proposal to erect a Patriarchate at Kiev, and Propaganda considered the matter; I have found (says Fr. Cyrille Korolevsky) the proof in the archives and the copy I made was in the Metropolitan's hands. He read everything I sent him with the greatest attention. On principle, he did not wish to do anything for his personal advantage. He saw a means to joint the whole of Ukraine to the Catholic Church, provided that the election was done by a large majority, which would have assured stability. of jurisdiction of the Pope, who would have had to confirm this election. And in the Metropolitan's view, such an offer would mean, in practice, the acceptance of church union, that is the recognition of the primacy of the jurisdiction of the Pope, who would have had to confirm this election. No Catholic bishop in the Metropolitan's position could have acted more appropriately and more prudently.

As to Skoropadsky's conviction that he himself could grant the autocephaly, no one who knows Orthodox practice will be surprised, because for the Orthodox Church the supreme authority after Christ - Who is no longer on earth - is the Ecumenical Council, but such a Councilsince 787 (the Orthodox do not consider the council has not been held of 869 which condemned Photius ecumenical). The Romanian Patriarchate was founded on 4 February 1925 by the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church and received legal sanction from the Kingdom of Romania on 12 February of that year. Only afterwards was the assent of the Patriarchate of Constantinople requested - Constantinople did not refuse. It was the same for the Bulgarians, although in that case Constantinople took longer to concede. According to the principles of the Orthodox Church, the Patriarchate of Constantinople has a primacy of honour, but no primacy of jurisdiction.
But back to Kiev. The party opposed to a complete break with Russia gained the upper hand so the idea of autocephaly for the Church of Kiev was abandoned by the Council. Was the whole idea viable? Certainly not: Kyr Andrew (Sheptytsky) would have had the greatest difficulties to convince the bishops to accept the primacy of the Pope, let alone the other controverted dogmas, and there would eventually have been an internal schism."
The Polish-Russian armistice was signed on 11 October and ratified by the Polish Diet on the 23rd. The definite treaty was made on 18 March 1921".
Excerpts from: Cyril Korolevsky: Metropolitan Andrew (1865-1944), translated and revised by Serge Keleher, L'viv 1993, pp. 213-217). The original book by Fr. Cyrille Korolevsky - born Jean-François Charon at Caen (France). His account in French is difficult to read because of the many mistakes in French. He was a brilliant priest and had spent most of his life in th service of the Eastern Churches. His testimony gives a unique description of the multi-faceted and numerous problems that Metropolitan had to face during his long pastoral service of the Greek-Catholic Church in the Ukraine and abroad, in particular in North and South America. He was very capable and acute. His testimony is indeed essential at the present because his had envisioned the many developments that show up at the present in a very troublesome situation. Nonetheless, being a French by birth and having open-minded views and prospects on the Eastern Middle-Eastern and Slavic Churches, he describes the facts with much distance that a local specialist would hardly reach. His book "Métropolite André Szeptyckyj, 1865-1944 - was published in Rome in 1964 in "Працi Украïнського Богословського Наукового Товариства - Opera Theologicae Societatis Scientificae Ucrainorum - vol. XVI-XVII with a preface by Cardinal Eugène Tisserant, one of the greatest specialist of Eastern Churches.

Incidentally, it should be noted that Cardinal E. Tisserant, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Oriental Churches at Rome, pleaded the cause of the first Hebrew-praying four Roman Catholic priests who celebrated in the language in 1952; he had stressed that the Chaldean Oriental rite was the most adequate, but the Western origin of the concerned clergy drove it to full Latinization. N.B. "Hebrew in the Church of Jerusalem" has been in use by the blessing of a remarkable translation by Fr. Levinson of the Divine Liturgy by the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow in 1852, i.e. before the restoration of the Patriarchate of Moscow.I use this text because of its official recognition, validity and real beauty.
It should be noted that the above mentioned quotation from a specific situation confronted by late Metropolitan Andrii Sheptytsky should correctly be understood. In his quotation and comments, Fr. Cyril Korolevsky draw the attention of the readers to very special points. These are very parallel to the situation that the Eastern Orthodox Church is embattled with at the present in Ukraine. The excerpts are followed by a clairvoyant description of the dangers that Ukraine can both generate and be obliged to affront from the part of the Poles, the Central European Powers and Russia. Interestingly "za kordonu = at the frontier, on the rope of the border that has always been difficult to determine". As if the "cord", also maybe mostly in a spiritual connection would imply the emergence of a lot of unexpected and "imperiling" factors. We should also keep in mind that the history of the Church of the Rus' of Kiev and then Moscow has been tragic over the centuries. It has been deeply assaulted by invaders coming from Asia (Mongols, Tatars) and from the West (Poland, Lithuania).

Nonetheless, Eastern Orthodox Churches of the Rus' have also been also influenced by the Westerners, both the Latins and the Protestants that introduced special habits that were not present in the Greek tradition (Holy Confession).

This text should be measured adequately. It shows one or two invariants and also refers to constant traditions of the Eastern Orthodox Churches that should normally be respected by the Oriental Churches united to Rome. A last remark that is very rarely mentioned. The Second Council of Vatican was adopted by the Roman Church and its Oriental components, provided that the Patriarchs heading the Oriental Churches would confirm and ratify the decision upon their return to their local ecclesiastical areas. This had not been done. They never convoked the concerned Synods for different reasons. Some Churches - like the Greek-Catholics/Melkites - claim to adopt the decisions of the Council with the provision that the Eastern Orthodox Churches would also join in such decisions, which can hardly be the case for the moment. It is evident that the Roman clergy and faithful are not directly concerned or aware of this pending situation.

The Act of Declaration of Independence of Ukraine (Акт проголошення незалежності України) was passed on August 24, 1991 by the Ukrainian Parliament and widely confirmed by the referendum dated December 1, 1991 (90% of the voters). This happened 18 years ago and the National Day will take place on forthcoming Monday 24th of August 2009.

With regard to the exceptional personality of Metropolitan Andrii Sheptytsky and the "above any sort of nationalism" position that he adopted, this text, as many others readily quoted in other notes and articles, brings some light on how to go ahead with God's assistance.

archpriest Aleksandr [Winogradsky Frenkel]
av aleksandr