Comedian Volodymyr Zelensky was elected Ukraine’s sixth president in April. In 1978, Zelensky was born in Kryvyi Rih, a Ukrainian city in central Russia, to a Russian-speaking family. In addition to being Jewish, his mother is also an engineer, and his father is a computer scientist. Several of his grandfather’s siblings and his paternal great-grandfather were killed in the Holocaust. During his visit to Israel in 2020, Zelensky referred to such history in a speech.

Volodymyr Zelensky in a video speech from an online Post, March 26 2022. (Screenshot)

There Are Just Few Information Available Regarding Zelensky’s Personal Judaism

Few details are available regarding Zelenksky’s Jewish Background. He has been interpreted to suggest that his family was not religious, as was expected under the oppressive Communist system, as having an “average Soviet Jewish upbringing.” He said, “I never talk about religion or God since I have my perspective.” “Of course, I’m a Christian.” “However, I only talk to him when it is most personal to me.” As a Ukrainian “with Jewish blood,” he has characterised himself. His non-Jewish wife, Olena Zelenska, a former classmate, reportedly had their two children baptised.
So although by blood Zelensky is Jewish, it does not have an influence on his life, as he often refers to himself as a Christian.

His father refused to let Zelensky travel to Israel to study law because of his good English exam scores as a youngster.

Zelensky subsequently went to law school in Ukraine instead. Zelensky never went on to become a lawyer. At the age of 17, he joined a Russian television programme called KVN, a competition for improv comedy teams, which he participated in. In this area in Kryvyi Rih, he founded his own company, which he dubbed Kvartal 95.

Ukrainians would soon recognise Zelensky as a household name. One of his most prominent roles was president of the United States in the television series Servant of the People. He played a history teacher who was elected after a viral video of him railing against government corruption. The sitcom’s third season was published in 2019, the year Zelensky was elected president.

Zelensky utilised slapstick comedy in the vein of Monty Python and Benny Hill in his work. Wearing high heels and skin-tight pantyhose, the performer mimics the moves of an American pop song parody. While playing the piano, he performs Hava Nagila, the Jewish classic, with his hands up in the air such that no one is left in any question as to which part of his body is touching the keys. He wore a yarmulke in one of his drawings while arguing with a customer over a bill because of anti-Semitic prejudices.

Corruption was a significant issue for Zelensky when he ran for president in 2019. His campaign was centred on settling a dispute with Russia in the country’s eastern region that has gone on for years. With 73% of the vote, he was declared the victorious candidate for the president.

Ukraine Relations With Israel

On the 20th of May of this year, he was sworn in as president for the first time. Ukraine was the only nation outside of Israel where the president and prime minister were Jewish for a short period. Former Ukrainian Prime Minister and fellow Jew Volodymyr Groysman served as the country’s leader from 2016 to 2019.

Foreign ties between Israel and Ukraine are called Israel–Ukraine relations. On May 11, 1949, as the Ukrainian SSR, both nations acknowledged each other de facto, and on December 26, 1991, as an independent state, they established de jure diplomatic ties. The Israeli embassy in Ukraine is located in Kyiv.

It wasn’t long before Zelensky found himself at the heart of an American political crisis when it was discovered that President Trump had instructed him to launch an investigation into Hunter Biden, the son of Joe Biden. The latter was running for president in 2020. Accusations have been made that Trump withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in military funding for Ukraine as a kind of pressure on Zelensky to initiate the inquiry. Both of these issues contributed to the impeachment of President Trump in late 2019, and the Senate eventually cleared him of any wrongdoing.

To many Jews, Zelensky is a modern-day Jewish hero for leading his country’s defence against Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine in early 2022. A series of Facebook videos showed him in Kyiv, encouraging his fellow Ukrainians to remain and fight. In response to the United States’ offer to transport him from Russia, Zelensky said, “I need weapons, not a ride.”


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