NEWARK, N.J. – Ukrainian American Bar Association representatives Victor Rud, chairman of the UABA Foreign Relations Committee, and Myroslaw Smorodsky, UABA communications director; Ronya Lozynskyj and Tamara Olexy of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America; and Yuriy Symczyk, national secretary of the Ukrainian National Association; met with Sen. Robert Menendez on January 6. Sen. Menendez (D-N.J.) is the senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The meeting was coordinated by Mr. Symczyk at the senator’s request. Its purpose was to discuss the Ukrainian American community’s deep concerns regarding the nomination of Rex Tillerson to be the next U.S. secretary of state and the potentially damaging impact his confirmation could have on Ukraine’s struggle to maintain its territorial integrity and independence. The UABA respectfully submitted to the senator proposed areas of questioning during the confirmation process of Mr. Tillerson with background briefing material for the senator’s consideration and review in preparation for the hearings before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on January 11.
WHIPPANY, N. J. – Ukrainian American Veterans Post 17 celebrated Christmas at the Ukrainian American Cultural Center of New Jersey in Whippany on December 18. The festivities were organized and presided over by Post Commander Walter Kovbasniuk, who recognized several prominent guests, among them Dr. Olexander Ilchyk, who is starting a two-year residency in the United States studying battlefield medicine to provide care to Ukrainian army casualties conducting anti-terrorist operations (ATO) in eastern Ukraine,. Mr. Kovbasniuk presented a commemorative Ukrainian American Veterans coin to Roma Hadzewycz, editor-in-chief of The Ukrainian Weekly and Svoboda, for her continuing support of the organization’s efforts. The Ukrainian American Veterans (UAV) organization was represented by, among others, Michael Hrycak and Andrew Hadzewycz, commander and vice-commander, respectively, of the UAV New Jersey Department, as well as Ihor Rudko, commander of the UAV Connecticut Department and Post Commander Walter Kovbasniuk, Post 17 (Whippany). Mr. Hrycak shared some memories of a Christmas he shared with fellow soldiers in Iraq 10 years ago, which included a fellow United States Military Academy classmate (class of 1981) of Mark “Franko” Paslawsky (who was killed in action during the battle of Ilovaysk on August 19, 2014, as member of the Donbas Battalion), emphasizing that all veterans are lucky to be with their families this Christmas.
HILLSIDE, N.J. – On Wednesday, December 28, 2016, children and parishioners of Immaculate Conception Ukrainian Catholic Church in Hillside, N.J., caroled in Ukrainian and English for the retired Sisters of Mercy and clergy of McAuley Hall Center at Mount St. Mary Academy in Watchung, N.J. The children distributed home-baked cookies and religious calendars to the attendees. One of the retirees in the audience mentioned that she is Ukrainian and joined the children and parishioners in singing numerous Ukrainian carols. Afterwards, the parish caroling group traveled throughout Union, Somerset, Middlesex and Morris Counties to share the gift of koliady with parishioners at their homes. (Additional photos can be found on the parish website www.byzcath.org/ImmaculateConception.)
OAKVILLE, Ontario – Dr. Orest H. T. Rudzik, a university professor, lawyer and Ukrainian community activist, died on December 8 at Oakville-Trafalgar Memorial Hospital of cranial injuries resulting from a fall. He was born in Toronto in 1936, the son of Ukrainian parents. He earned his Honors B.A. (University College) at the University of Toronto, his M.A. from the University of Chicago (where he was a William Rainey Harper Fellow) and a Ph.D. from the University of Toronto. He taught in the Department of English at University College from 1961 to 1986, during which time he was a post-doctoral fellow at the Humanities Center of the Johns Hopkins University in 1968-1969. He created a Canadian Literature Program for Atkinson College at York University.
HILLSIDE, N.J. – During 2016, Canadians celebrated the 125th anniversary of Ukrainian immigration to Canada. It is therefore fitting to remember Father Nestor Dmytriw, the first Ukrainian Catholic priest to celebrate the divine liturgy in Canada – at Terebovlia, Manitoba, in April 1897. In addition to his spiritual duties, Father Nestor Dmytriw was an avid historian, a natural leader, editor-in-chief of the Ukrainian language newspaper Svoboda and a supreme secretary and auditor of the Ukrainian National Association (then known as the Ruthenian National Association). Father Dmytriw died on May 25, 1925, and is buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Hillside, N.J. Ironically, Father Dmytriw’s gravesite was unmarked for over 60 years. He was the “forgotten priest” who had done so much for our early Ukrainian settlers in Canada and the USA.
WHIPPANY, N.J. – The Bethlehem Peace Light was shared during a ceremony at St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church in Whippany, N.J., on Saturday, December 3. In attendance were members of Plast Ukrainian Scouting Organization, including senior members who organized the ceremony, as well as Polish, Latvian and Lithuanian scouts, members of the Ukrainian American Youth Association, parishioners and school children. The light had arrived in the United States one week earlier, landing at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, where a special ceremony was held at Our Lady of the Skies Chapel. The light came from Vienna, brought there by Austrian scouts who light a lantern from the everlasting flame that burns in Bethlehem.
SOMERSET, N.J. – On Sunday afternoon, December 18, 2016, St. Nicholas visited the children and families gathered at the historic Heinrich Fisher House on the grounds of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Metropolia in Somerset, N.J., for the first ever St. Nicholas Workshop sponsored by the Ukrainian History and Education Center. He was greeted with the traditional Ukrainian carol “O, Khto, Khto, Mykolaia Liubyt’” (professing children’s love of St. Nicholas).
PHILADELPHIA – Sviatoslav Karavansky, a prominent Ukrainian anti-Soviet dissident, twice imprisoned in Soviet concentration camps for a total of 31 years, died at the age of 95 on December 17 at a hospital in Baltimore. He had been living in the U.S. since 1980, soon after being released with his wife, Dr. Nina Strokata, likewise an inmate of Soviet prisons, who was arrested for protesting her husband’s incarceration. Born December 24, 1920, in Odesa, Ukraine, Mr. Karavansky studied philology and literature at the local university at the same time as he participated in the activities of student groups linked to the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) underground. Arrested by the Soviet security police in 1944, he refused to become a secret informer to report on fellow students and consequently was given a 25-year sentence. He served his prison term in various Siberian hard-labor camps.
NEW YORK – The Executive Board of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA), the nation’s largest representation of Ukrainians in America, announced on December 10 that the Ukrainian American Veterans (UAV) and the Ukrainian Medical Association of North America (UMANA), two longstanding organizations with a combined century plus of community leadership, now stand beside over 20 other national Ukrainian American organizations as official members of the UCCA National Council, the highest ruling body of the UCCA. The National Council gathered on Saturday, December 10, for its first meeting following the XXII Congress of Ukrainians in America, which had convened in September. Newly re-elected Council Chair Stefan Kaczaraj, the president of the Ukrainian National Association, presided over a gathering of delegates representing Ukrainian Churches and religious associations in the United States, Ukrainian American educational institutions, national or central member organizations, and local chapters of the UCCA. In addition to nominating members to over a dozen working and advisory committees, which will guide the actions of the new UCCA Executive Board over the next four years, the delegates heard a brief report from UCCA staff and leadership on the work accomplished during the eight weeks since the XXII Congress. Setting an ambitious agenda to start off his term, newly elected UCCA President Andriy Futey summarized the UCCA’s work in advance of and immediately following the U.S. elections, the UCCA’s recent high-level meetings in Ukraine, as well as a very active period of work at the United Nations.
NEW YORK – The United Nations General Assembly voted 70 to 26 to adopt a resolution condemning human rights abuses in Crimea and urging Russia to allow U.N. monitors unimpeded access to the Ukrainian peninsula. The resolution passed on December 19 marked the first time that the Russian Federation was named by the General Assembly as an occupying power and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol as “temporarily occupied territory.” Out of the 193 member states of the United Nations, 70 voted in favor, 26 voted against and 77 abstained. Adoption of the resolution, in which the United Nations reaffirmed the sovereignty, political independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, was welcomed by the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, the largest representation of Americans of Ukrainian descent. However, in welcoming the resolution’s passage, UCCA President Andriy Futey underscored that, “The 26 nay votes represent all the member states of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) with the exception of Azerbaijan, Moldova and, of course, Ukraine, and thus the UCCA calls on the government of Ukraine to withdraw from the CIS.”
Since 1993, Ukraine has been an associate member of the CIS, a regional organization created by 12 former Soviet republics upon the dissolution of the Soviet Union. With legislation denouncing the CIS agreement languishing in Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada since being introduced in 2014, it is high time that the largest nation in Europe formally cut ties with its neighboring oppressor, the UCCA commented.