Kiev's Jewish community might have managed to get past the embarrassment had it not been for one particular scene featuring the oligarchs dancing while donned in prayer shawls.
The person behind the scandal is Alexander Melamud, a Jewish entrepreneur involved in the biggest real estate deal in Ukrainian history after selling a large commercial compound in Kiev for $200 million. He is estimated to be worth $49 million. When not doing business, Melamud is busy writing erotic poetry and has even published several books.
The millionaire recently celebrated his 50th birthday. In light of the major event, some of his Jewish friends decided to surprise him with a video featuring a particularly racy song using the melody of Lady Gaga's hit "Bad Romance".
The video's stars include Ukrainian parliament member Dmitry Sandler, who just last week held a wedding for his daughter in Israel; Melamoud's partners and real estate tycoons Gari Korogodsky and Mikhail Spielman; and Alexander Gorodetsky, until recently owner of a major oil company.
Melamud's friends teased him mainly for his literary skills. They also joked about their own Jewish background: One scene shows the participants donned in prayer shawls while waving S
tar of David medallions and singing "we are heretics." Another shot shows them pouring vodka from bottles whose labels read "Jewish standard."
The video, which was uploaded on the internet on the same day the visa requirements between Israel and the Ukraine were canceled, has become a massive hit.
But not everyone found it so funny. Angry talkbackers accused the video's stars of encouraging anti-Semitism.
Local rabbis are mostly outraged over the disrespect for Jewish emblems but are faced with a problem: They are loath to condemn the naughty oligarchs as they are among the major donors of Kiev's main synagogue.
Kiev's Chief Rabbi Moshe Asman said he has announced a day of fast. "We shall ask anyone who arrives at the synagogue to pray God to wipe away this shame and forgive us," he told Yedioth Ahronoth.
Ofer Petersburg contributed to this report
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