Vandals desecrated the gravesite of the holy Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev of saintly memory
(March 4th, 2008)

Shock and outrage has gripped Jews worldwide following the news of a serious act of vandalism that took place yesterday in Berditchev, Ukraine. Vandals desecrated the gravesite of the holy Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev of saintly memory.

Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev (1740-1810), known as the Berdichever Rebbe was a rabbi and Hasidic leader. Rabbi Levi Yitzchok was known as the “defense attorney” for the Jewish people, because it was believed that he could intercede on their behalf before God. Known for his compassion for every Jew, and was therefore one of the most beloved leaders of Eastern European Jewry.

The perpetrators of this hideous crime broke the fence around the grave, smashed the windows of the building adjacent to the tomb where hundreds of thousands of Jews the world over come to pray, threw in bottles and stones and painted swastikas and other vulgar language there.

Last night was the second time that these antisemites tried to desecrate this holy site. The first time was Saturday night when they smeared swastikas on the walls of the site but yesterday they returned and smashed the fence around it. They also tried to break the entrance door but did not succeed.

Rabbis Shlomo Yom Tov Brier and Moshe Thaler who serve as Rabbis at the site immediately notified police and the mayor and also contacted the Central Rabbis of Europe in Belgium to generate an international protest.

Rabbi Avrohom Yafe Shlesinger who serves as Chairman of the Committee in the Central Rabbis of Europe that oversees Jewish cemeteries in Europe sent a telegram to the European Union and President of Ukraine demanding to classify the place as an “historical site” and assign guards to it.

Meanwhile, the police caught the criminal. It is a young lad who, according to police, wants to apologize to the rabbis. But the police suspect that he was not alone in the act and is a member of a gang of hoodlums who did it.

The Berditchev municipality has meanwhile closed off the site to the media for fear that it will lead to an international outcry against the authorities in the city.