Ukrainian President Vlodymyr Zelensky vowed on Monday to get to the bottom of an alleged corruption saga that has reportedly been holding up the construction of a synagogue in the city of Uman for over a decade.
Zelensky’s remarks came during a meeting with Duvi Honig, founder and CEO of the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce (OJCC), shortly before the president held his first-ever meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and other top Israeli officials.
The saga began more than 10 years ago, when Israeli businessman Yisrael Elhadad acquired a large parcel of land in Uman, near the grave of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, founder of the Breslov Chassidic movement.
He planned to build a massive Jewish center on the site, with a large synagogue and a mikvah. The need was great, he felt, as there was currently no large synagogue in the city, even though tens of thousands of Jews travel to the city every year on Rosh Hashanah to visit Rabbi Nachman’s grave.
The Uman City Council approved the plans, according to Elhadad, but then the Town Council then refused to allow the project to proceed, allegedly demanding a $350,000 bribe. When Elhadad refused, the council rezoned the property as a public park and began doing site work, preventing the construction of the synagogue.
Honig pleaded with the president, who is Jewish, to keep his promise to enable to rise of “Little Jerusalem” in Uman, JNS reports.