Kyiv, November 18, 2014 – Three of the world’s leading voices in support of Ukraine will arrive in Kyiv tomorrow to speak at a ceremony honoring Ukrainian businessman and philanthropist Victor Pinchuk for his work in fostering Ukrainian-Jewish relations and advancing his homeland’s European aspirations.
French philosopher and writer Bernard-Henri Levy, former Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski and U.S. scholar Timothy Snyder will visit Ukraine to obtain an update of internal developments and to take part in a dinner at which Mr. Pinchuk will be presented with the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Award on November 18th.
Other dignitaries speaking at the event include Sviatoslav Shevchuk, the Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich, of the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine. The dinner will be attended by Ukraine’s business, cultural, political leaders.
The Sheptytsky Award is conferred by the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine and the Ukrainian Jewish Encounter, a Canadian charitable organization based in Toronto, on an annual basis to an individual in Ukraine, Israel, or from the diasporas who has made important contributions to Ukrainian-Jewish understanding and cooperation.
Mr. Pinchuk is being recognized for his philanthropic endeavours — principally through the Victor Pinchuk Foundation — in support of Jewish cultural life in Ukraine, major research projects and exhibits related to the Holocaust, and documentary films that have forthrightly examined the crimes committed during the Holocaust.
Mr. Pinchuk is likewise being recognized and honored for his work through the Yalta European Strategy, which has become the major forum advancing Ukraine’s European path based on the values of inter-ethnic and inter-faith tolerance.
Through numerous charitable activities, commitment to his Jewish faith, contributions to Ukrainian-Jewish dialogue, and support of the arts and emerging artists, Mr. Pinchuk represents today the kind of European and inclusive Ukraine envisaged by one of the towering Ukrainian leaders of the twentieth century, Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky.
Mr. Pinchuk is the second winner of the Sheptytsky Award. In 2013, it was presented by the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine to James Constantin Temerty, Canadian-Ukrainian businessman, philanthropist, and founder of the Ukrainian Jewish Encounter.
In 2014, the Ukrainian Jewish Encounter agreed to join with the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine to administer the Sheptytsky Award.
Born in 1865 to a prominent family, Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky was the spiritual leader of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church from 1901 until his death in 1944. During World War II, he helped save more than the 150 Jewish lives. The Metropolitan sheltered Jews in his own residence at great personal risk, and arranged for Church monasteries to protect well over one hundred Jewish children, not one of whom was betrayed or lost. Metropolitan Sheptytsky protested against Germany’s murderous policies towards Jews, alerted Pope Pius XII in personal reports about the mass murders taking place on the territory of what is now Ukraine and issued a pastoral letter in November 1942 on the theme Thou Shalt Not Kill, urging his parishioners not to participate in Nazi atrocities.
Throughout his life, the Metropolitan was dedicated to preserving Ukraine’s cultural heritage. He collected icons and objects of art, and as a patron of the arts and philanthropist, supported many prominent Ukrainian artists. Today, his collection is the basis of the Andrey Sheptytsky National Museum in Lviv.