Yaakov Bleich

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Yaakov Dov Bleich

Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich (born October 19, 1964) is an American-born rabbi. And the chief rabbi of Kyiv and all of Ukraine since 1990[1] and serves as vice-president of the World Jewish Congress since 2009.[2]


Bleich family in embroidered shirts, may 2016.

Bleich graduated from Telshe yeshiva High School in Chicago, Illinois where he began his rabbinical studies. From 1984 to 1986, he studied at the Karlin Stolin Rabbinical Institute in Jerusalem.

In 1990, Rabbi Bleich was appointed by the Jewish Communities of Ukraine as Chief Rabbi of Kyiv and Ukraine. Since his arrival in Ukraine, Bleich has been instrumental in founding the Kyiv Jewish City Community, the Union Of Jewish Religious Organizations of Ukraine, the first Jewish day school in Ukraine, 3 yeshivas, 3 kollels, 2 cheders, a Beis Yaakov for girls, the first Jewish orphanage and boarding school in Ukraine, 1st and only Jewish summer Camp in Ukraine, Morasha Jewish Students Center for Students from around Ukraine, the Chesed Avot welfare society of Kyiv, and the Magen Avot social services network of Ukraine.[citation needed]

In 2005 he was one of three contenders for the role of chief rabbi, alongside Chabad Lubavitch appointees Azriel Chaikin (appointed 2002) and Moshe Reuven Azman (appointed 2005).[3] There is also a Progressive (Liberal/Reform) Chief Rabbi of Kiev and Ukraine, Alexander Dukhovny. But Bleich has always been recognized by the government as Chief Rabbi of Kyiv and Ukraine.[citation needed] As such Bleich is a co founder and leader of the Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations.[citation needed]

In 2018, Kievan weekly magazine Focus named Bleich among the most "powerful foreigners" in the country.[4]

In 2019, Bleich, together with Sviatoslav Shevchuk and Epiphanius I of Ukraine, held a prayer service for members of the OUN in the Jewish cemetery of Sambir.[5][6][7]


Bleich grew up in Borough Park, Brooklyn. In 1987, he married Bashy Wigder of Monsey, New York.