As Winter Rages, JDC Winter Relief Program is Critical Lifeline to Needy Jews

Inside the home of a Hesed client in Belarus, who received these groceries as part of her Winter Relief package; photo by Sarah Levin for JDC.

Inside the home of a Hesed client in Belarus, who received these groceries as part of her Winter Relief package; photo by Sarah Levin for JDC.

As parts of North America are once again engulfed in the polar vortex, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) continued its twenty-second year of winter relief efforts for tens of thousands of poor Jews across the former Soviet Union. Across eleven times zones and in more than 2,600 locations, JDC is providing thousands of tons of coal, firewood and gas to needy Jews to heat their homes through the winter season. The relief aid also includes warm bedding sets as well as extra food and medical supplies for people with limited access to stores and facilities due to inclement weather conditions.

Among those helped is Dora Pozel, a resident of Nyzhni Vorota located high in the Carpathian Mountains of Ukraine. Pozel, in her 80’s, relies on help provided by JDC during the several months a year that her small village is covered in snow. Pozel receives essential medical and food supplies shipped to her from the local Hesed, one of JDC’s hundreds of welfare centers spread out across the former Soviet Union.

In Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan located several thousand miles away to the east, the local winter relief efforts not only help more than 100 needy Jews, the warm bedding sets that are distributed are ordered from and created by the Training and Production Enterprise of Kyrgyz Society of the Blind and the Deaf. This enterprise, fully staffed by people with visual and hearing impairments, has been utilized in two other previous winter relief seasons.