would like to tell a personal story about why the word “zhyd,” a derogatory
reference to Jews, stirs so much emotion in Ukraine. The reason I am doing this
is discussion around a recent comment by my former university mate-turned-member
of parliament from Svoboda Party, Ihor Miroshnychenko. He called the Hollywood
actress of Ukrainian descent Mila Kunis is a “zhydivka.”
great-grandfather’s name was Efim Abramovich Kalishevsky. The name is telling,
but in Soviet days people used to hide very carefully the Jewish roots of one’s
relatives. Actually, my great-grandfather was a christened Jew, and some years
ago he married my grandmother Varvara Radzievska. They had two daughters, the elder
Susanna and younger Agnessa, my grandmother.
In the 1930s, my great-grandfather was a bishop of the
Ukrainian Autocephalous Church. In 1937, he was shot in the dungeons of the
October Palace for membership in counter-revolutionary church-based
nationalistic organization. I only found out about it in 1990.