(JTA) — Prominent rabbis from five countries prayed for the health of the president of Ukraine, Vlodymyr Zelensky, who announced two weeks ago that he had contracted the coronavirus.
The prayers came from Rabbis Israel Miller at the Synagogue of Europe in Brussels; Moshe Sebbag of the Grand Synagogue of Paris; Moshe Reuven Azman, one of Ukraine’s two Orthodox chief rabbis; Shmuel Rabinovitch of the Western Wall in Jerusalem; and the chief Sephardic rabbi of Israel, Yitzhak Yosef. The rabbis each recorded video of themselves reciting prayers at their synagogues and sent the footage to Asher Gold, an Israel-based public relations professional who has worked with Zelensky’s staff, Gold told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency Wednesday.
“You were here, you prayed here, and we are now praying here for you and your health,” Rabinovitch said in footage filmed at the Western Wall.
Also featured in the video greeting sent to Zelensky were Rabbi Levi Duchman of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and two community leaders, Naum Koen and Solly Wolf.
Zelensky’s election last year has been a source of pride for many Jews in Ukraine and beyond. Asked whether this was the reason for the prayers, Gold said it owed primarily not to Zelensky’s origins, but to how he has been “an important friend to the Jewish community in Ukraine and of the State of Israel and the fight against anti-Semitism, and someone who cares deeply about the memory of the Holocaust.”
In January, Zelesnky heaped unusual praise on Israel ahead of his visit there to attend a Holocaust commemoration event. “The Jews managed to build a country, to elevate it, without anything except people and brains,” he told Times of Israel.
Zelensky was hospitalized last week because he had a fever. He is feeling well, recovering and will soon resume work as usual, his staff told the news site Delo on Wednesday.