Why the Word ‘zhyd’ Stirs Fighting in Ukraine

From the Kyiv Post >>

By Yulia McGuffie

I 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.”

My 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.

Our big happy family lived in a semi-communal apartment on 24/7 Instytutska Street in the very heart of Kyiv. The reason I say it was semi-communal was that three of the vast rooms in this flat were taken up by my family, while the other one was used by the authorities for lodging various underclass folks, with whom we had to share our everyday existence and the mailing address.

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