Photo Credit: Mark Neyman / GPO
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin meets with his Ukrainian counterpart, President Petro Poroshenko, at the president's residence in Jerusalem on December 22, 2015.

President Reuven Rivlin addressed a special plenary session of the Ukraine Parliament on Tuesday, marking 75 years since the Babi Yar Massacre.

The address came during Rivlin’s state visit to the country and followed his visit to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Kiev, and the Klodomor Memorial.

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Rivlin and President Petro Poroshenko met together for a working meeting following an official welcome ceremony.

In his address, Rivlin shared with the lawmakers the current deteriorating medical status of Israel’s ninth president, “my friend, Shimon Peres. My thoughts are with …. Shimon Peres, who is fighting for his life at these very moments.

“The president was a guest of honor in this house and a friend of the Ukrainian people,” he said, “and saw the great importance of strengthening the ties between the states.

“In the name of the Israeli people, and people around the world, we pray for his recovery.”

In the address, Rivlin also talked about the personal way in which Ukraine’s history has affected his life and that of his wife.

“Kayla Mintz was born in 1907 to Reyzl and Alexander Mintz in the town of Bilozir, Ukraine. In 1925 at the age of 20 she received an entry permit to Israel and achieved her dream of becoming a farmer and working the land that she felt so strongly about.

“In the years to come she married Menachem Shulman, who was born in the town of Marina Gorka, in Ukraine, and after wandering the land together the settled in Moshav Herut together with other friends from Ukraine. There they had two daughters, Varda and Nechama, my wife.

“Kayla left her entire family back in Ukraine – her sisters, her brother, and her father. Life in Israel was difficult, and she innocently thought that her family was spoiled and wouldn’t be able to stand the difficulties in living in Israel. That is why she never bothered to persuade them to emigrate to Israel.

“Following the beginning of Operation Barbarossa by German forces, Bilozir was captured in July 1941 by the Nazis. Already within the first week of occupying the town, several Jewish girls were publicly executed.

“In mid-August 1942 the city’s Jews were taken, along with the rest of the Jews from Laniwci Ghetto, to the killing pits on the way leading to Kremenets, and were murdered there.

“With your permission, I will mention the names of my wife’s aunts and uncles, and their children: Aunt Cilla (nee Mintz), her husband and children. Aunt Mania (nee Mintz), her husband and children. Uncle Dov Mintz, his wife and children. Uncle Daniel Mintz, His wife and children. In the town of Marina Gorka, in today’s Belarus, my wife’s uncles were murdered. Her father Menachem Shulman’s brothers Jacob, Moses, Samuel and Israel Shulman.

“May they rest in peace.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.