JDC Steps Up Emergency Ukraine Response

Destruction in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, near Donetsk; photo by Rachel Calman/JDC.

As the crisis in Ukraine worsens, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) has stepped up its emergency response as more Jews flee cities in eastern Ukraine and critical aid is delivered to those who stay behind in areas of unrest. The organization has been providing a robust emergency response for Ukraine’s most vulnerable Jews since the crisis began. JDC has provided a comprehensive aid program to more than 1,000 Jews who have fled violence in some areas of eastern Ukraine and found new homes in places like Kiev, Dnepropetrovsk, Kharkov, Odessa and even Rostov in Russia. This includes accommodation and rental subsidies, food and clothing, Jewish community connections like family summer camps, and post-trauma counseling services. Through its network of Hesed social welfare … [Read more...]

Summertime in Ukraine

JAFI camp for highlights

Despite escalating violence throughout Ukraine, normal routine continues to remain a priority for Jewish Agency programming. By Avital Chizhik special to eJP It’s a hot summer in Ukraine. And the streets are mostly empty of children. Anna Landberg, director of The Jewish Agency summer camp in Kharkov in eastern Ukraine, sighs as she remembers the difficulty of recruiting for summer camps. “Parents are afraid to send their children out of sight here,” she says. “No one knows what will happen tomorrow and it’s been very difficult figuring out even the simplest logistics, like the children’s transportation to our camp sites. There are days when we are almost positive that the camp will be full, and there are other days where many families change their minds. Out of fear.” Despite the … [Read more...]

First Jewish Refugee Camp Opens in Ukraine; Many Still Trapped in East

Jewish refugees from Lugansk and surrounding towns arrive at a family refugee camp in the western city of Zhitomer.

by Dovid Margolin When Tatyana fled the beleaguered eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk late last week, she felt relieved just to have made it out alive. “It was a horror. We boarded the train under heavy bombing,” explains Tatyana, 50, who escaped together with her daughter, son-in-law and 7-year-old grandson. “It was relatively calm until July 13; there was some transport around the city, some stores were open. But then the real fighting began, and everyone ran to buy tickets to leave the city; we were lucky to purchase tickets for July 24. Anyone still there can no longer leave because the central train station was bombed, and trains cannot leave the city. People are dying in Lugansk, and it is getting worse each day.” Tatyana, who declined to give her last name, and her family, are among … [Read more...]

Delivering Hope to Jews Fleeing, and Staying, in Eastern Ukraine

Even amidst the ongoing crisis, a little boy finds comfort in a new stuffed animal (May 2014); courtesy JDC.

by Ofer Glanz When an endless stream of breaking news competes for our limited time and attention, some stories fall between the cracks - like that of the war in Eastern Ukraine, afire with constant shelling, electricity cuts, shortages of food and medicine, and widespread unrest. Three Jewish women’s lives were cut short last month in this region. Did you know? Svetlana and Anna Sitnikov, a 57-year-old grandmother and her 31-year-old daughter, were killed by artillery fire when they went shopping for shoes in Lugansk, a city fought over by rebel and government forces. Larisa Faschuk, 75, died on her way to buy groceries in a separate shelling incident in the same town a few days later. They joined the growing number of civilian casualties in Ukraine’s ongoing crisis, a terrible toll … [Read more...]

Russian Jewish Community Commemorates Sevastopol Massacre of Jews

102- year-old David Barulya, a World War II veteran from Sevastopol and Holocaust survivor; photo courtesy Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia.

Sevastopol, Russia, July 11 - A memorial service was held in Sevastopol on Thursday to commemorate the tragic events of July 12, 1942, when more than 4,200 Jews were killed by Nazi forces. The event, which has been organized by the Sevastopol Jewish community for over 20 years, was commemorated on a much larger scale this year. The Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia assisted with the memorial event, which included rabbis from Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany and other countries. The rabbinic delegation also met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on July 9, to discuss a joint effort to prevent the "rewriting of history" - the fight against neo-Nazism and neo-fascism, as well as against xenophobia and anti-Semitism. Opening the ceremony in Sevastopol, Berel Lazar, … [Read more...]

Living, Learning and Loving Judaism at Limmud FSU Moldova

The Shuk; photo courtesy Ruben Landsberger.

Regardless of what the future may hold, the conference participants, with their black, almost Israeli humor, were engaged and fully aware of what was unfolding before them, which one would not be remiss in describing as almost a miracle - the resuscitation of Jewish life in the barren Soviet Union, which generations of oppression have not succeeded in stamping out. by Erica Schachne Touching down in the grass-lined fields of Moldova’s tiny airport, I had no idea what to expect. I had come to Chisinau, the capital of this landlocked republic, for the weekend of May 23-25 to attend the Limmud FSU conference, the festival of Jewish learning celebrating the rebirth of Judaism’s foothold in the former Soviet Union. I had heard great things about this dynamic “Jewish Woodstock,” which … [Read more...]

The Second Limmud FSU in Moldova

photo courtesy George Omen

by Mordechai Haimovitch The event opened modestly. Blue and orange balloons, a blue ribbon and a lone firework mark the opening of the second Limmud FSU conference in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova. Without the mass of people in New York, without the sparkle of Moscow and without the intellectual spirit of Odessa, but nevertheless, with a great deal of excitement and loads of welcome - people here smile at you, not just as a welcoming gesture but simply because that is the way they are. The fact that Moldova is the poorest country in Europe, changes nothing. An atmosphere of goodness pervades the air. In our hotel human engineering is somewhat lacking: the shower curtain doesn’t reach the floor and you end up surrounded by a small lake. The rooms have no telephone and the TVs have no remote … [Read more...]

In Ukraine, the Message is “To Think Positively”

by Karyn Grossman Gershon “I have always said prayers of peace for Israel. It is strange to be saying Jewish prayers of peace for Ukraine.” “Yesterday there were shots in Donetsk (it’s next to me).” “There were roadblocks along all our way home from my daughter’s. They stopped cars, checking the trunks.” “In Slovyansk people don’t leave their apartments without urgent need. All the stores are closed.” “Yesterday, a military campaign started here ... ” “For days already the Donetsk region is in a state of panic. Social networks spread information that all tap water has been poisoned, and soon there will be no water at all. All bottled water was immediately bought up in the stores and all empty containers in the apartments have been filled with water. People do not trust anyone.” “Here we … [Read more...]