Shul firebombed, other Jewish sites hit in Ukraine

A synagogue was firebombed and a Holocaust memorial and the grave of the brother of the late Lubavitcher rebbe were vandalized in Ukraine, amid a string of anti-Semitic attacks in the country.

The main synagogue in the Ukrainian city of Nikolayev reportedly was empty of worshippers when it was firebombed April 19, according to the Chabad-affiliated website.

Two Molotov cocktails were thrown at the door and window early that morning, the report said, citing Yisroel Gotlieb, son of the city’s chief rabbi, Sholom Gotlieb.

A passer-by put out the flames with a fire extinguisher, according to the report.

Nikolayev, a Black Sea port city of approximately 500,000, is in southeastern Ukraine about 70 miles from Odessa.

The Giymat Rosa Synagogue in Zaporizhia, in eastern Ukraine, was firebombed in late February.

On April 22, it was discovered that the Holocaust Memorial in Sevastopol in the Crimean Peninsula was spray painted in red with a hammer and sickle and the letters USSR, and with what appeared to be other pro-Russian graffiti according to the Sevastopolskaya Gazeta.

The Sevastopol Jewish Welfare Center, Hesed Shahar, reported the vandalism to local police, according to Sevastopolskaya Gazeta.

The memorial was erected in Sevastopol in 2003 at the site where 4,200 Jews were murdered by the Nazis on July 12, 1942. It has been vandalized by neo-Nazis in the past.

Also on April 22 it was reported that, in Dnepropetrovsk, swastikas were sprayed on the tomb of Dov Ber Schneerson, brother of the late Lubavicher Rebbe, Rabbi Menahem Mendel Schneerson.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry condemned as “grotesque” fliers that called on Jews in parts of Ukraine to register and pay a special tax to pro-Russian separatists.

The fliers’ authenticity and origins are unclear. They appeared last week in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, where pro-Russian separatists earlier this month declared the formation of the “Republic of Donetsk.” The separatists are occupying buildings and remain locked in a standoff with Ukrainian authorities.

Denis Pushilin, the leader of the Donetsk separatists whose name appears as the signatory on the fliers, denied any connection to the documents, saying the signature is not his.

Ukraine and Russia have exchanged accusations of anti-Semitism since February, when Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych was ousted from power during demonstrations prompted by his ties to Russia and allegations of corruption. — jta