A truly horrific case of vandalism occurred in Ukraine this week. A pig’s head and blood were thrown into the tomb of Rabbi Nachman of Braslov in Uman, Ukraine.
Rabbi Nachman’s tomb is a revered site for Hassidic Jews. Tens of thousands of Jews make a pilgrimage there for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.
Throwing a pig’s head and blood all around inside the tomb demonstrates a level of hatred far beyond the more ordinary vandalism of spray-painting anti-Semitic slogans on a synagogue wall.
While the Jewish community of Ukraine is large, estimated between 250,000 to 400,000, there are very few recorded anti-Semitic incidents relative to the population. According to the latest report from Vyacheslav Likhachev of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, only one anti-Semitic assault was recorded in 2016 and one in 2015. Anti-Semitic vandalism is also quite low, less than 25 incidents per year, considering the number of Jewish institutions in Ukraine. For comparison purposes, there were 50-80 per year for the past few years in the UK, where 300,000 Jews live.
The strong emotional impact of this severe case of vandalism should encourage Ukrainian authorities to make a commensurate effort to apprehend those responsible.