The Ukrainian Jewish Encounter (UJE) is a privately organized, multinational initiative launched in 2008 as a collaborative project involving Ukrainians of Jewish and Christian heritages and others, in Ukraine and Israel as well as in the diasporas. Its work engages scholars, civic leaders, artists, governments and the broader public in an effort to promote stronger and deeper relations between the two peoples.
For centuries, the territory of modern-day Ukraine was a meeting ground for diverse and flourishing cultures, and the dwelling place of one of the oldest and most populous Jewish communities in Eastern Europe. That community, consisting predominantly of Ashkenazi Jews, lived alongside the indigenous Christian Ukrainian population through long periods of normal coexistence and multifaceted cultural cross-fertilization. But at times, relations were strained by violence and antipathy generated in the complex environment of successive dominating empires and states. Both peoples also experienced migrations and the dynamics of diaspora, often in the same lands of resettlement.
Following a shared, long standing experience of powerlessness, statelessness and great suffering under oppressive totalitarian regimes in the 20th century, both peoples are today forming modern identities in and in relation to the independent states of Israel and Ukraine. UJE is an initiative founded on the belief that these two peoples have much to gain by better appreciating their joint and each other’s historical experience in all its complexity.