KIEV, Ukraine (JTA) — A Ukrainian rabbi received one of his country’s top honors for religious leaders.
Moshe Reuven Azman, chief rabbi of Kiev and a leader of the All-Ukrainian Jewish Congress, received the Order of Merit of the third grade Aug. 18, according to a decree signed by Ukraine’s president, Victor Yuschenko. The decree recognized Azman “for his prominent personal contribution to the development of spirituality, long-term religious labor and on the occasion of 18th anniversary of Ukraine’s Independence.”
Azman, 43, a citizen of Israel and one of the Chabad leaders of Kiev not affiliated with the Chabad Federation, has served as rabbi of the Brodsky Synagogue in Kiev since 1991. He was the only rabbi to openly back Yuschenko’s supporters in Kiev during the so-called “Orange Revolution” that helped bring Yuschenko to power. The synagogue, located just blocks from the main opposition rally in 2004, provided free meals and lodging to dozens of young protesters who came to Kiev from other parts of Ukraine.
Among other non-Christian leaders, Yuschenko also honored Emirali Ablayev, mufti of the Spiritual Board of Muslims of Crimea.