Rabbi Jonathan Binyamin Markovitch, director of Chabad-Lubavitch in Kiev, Ukraine, was honored before Passover with a special title.

Polish parliament member Karol Karski, also a member of the presidency of the European Parliament, came to Kiev last week for talks regarding the political and economic instability in Ukraine. There, he participated in conferences with many top-level politicians in the country about the ongoing war in the east between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists.

Along with these meetings, a ceremony was held at the Verkhovna Rada—the Ukrainian parliament—to honor Markovitch with the title of “Head of the Council on Mission between Nationality Relations.” Michael and Yanna Stolar, prominent members of the Kiev Jewish community and major sponsors of Chabad activities, also received honorary titles.

The ceremony took place on March 31—the 11th of Nissan on the Jewish calendar and the 113th anniversary of the birth of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory. Also known as Yud Alef Nissan, the day is marked by farbrengens (informal Chassidic gatherings), lectures and other commemorations.

“It is with great pleasure that the European Parliament honors Rabbi Markovitch with the title of being one of us,” announced Karski. “His work with the Chabad community, the Jewish community and all people of Kiev who [have been] touched by [his] amazing work during the years entitles him to be an honored diplomat of the European Parliament.”

In response, the rabbi talked about the significance of Yud Alef Nissan, in addition to the many lessons from the Rebbe that can be incorporated by nations around the world. With Passover just days away, Markovitch also spoke about the ideals of freedom associated with the Jewish holiday, which continues through Saturday night, April 11.