Independence Day

The US Declaration of Independence was signed on or about this day 246 years ago, and Ukraine formally declared its independence only in 1991, but I thought I’d mark the day by passing along holiday greetings from Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the president of a country in the midst of its own crusade for freedom:

It seems to me that this is a good day to remember the history of the current Russo-Ukrainian War, and I found no better way to do that than to share this talk by Dr. Marci Shore, delivered at Fairfield University in November of last year. “I Need Ammunition, Not a Lift: Jews and the Ukrainian Question” is a personal journey through recent Central European history, and Dr. Shore thoughtfully and often delightfully describes her own intimate and professional history and the ways in which they intertwine with what’s happening in Ukraine now. Dr. Shore (so personable is her delivery that I nearly called her Marci) offers a story that oddly enough reminded me most of another monologue about the individual’s role in a bloody human history, Spalding Gray’s Swimming to Cambodia.

Dr. Shore also directly confronts questions about anti-Semitism in Ukraine’s history towards the end of her hour-long talk, and I can’t recommend highly enough her book The Ukrainian Night: An Intimate History of Revolution, which I read several years ago. I can’t think of a better introduction to — and reminder of — the deeply important issues at play in today’s Europe. Here’s hoping that by next year the guns will have fallen silent over a truly independent Ukraine.