On March 25th, a pre-Passover educational seminar took place In Kishinev, Moldova, bringing together youth volunteers who will soon be leading Seders in the Jewish community.  The volunteers will also visit homebound elderly before Passover, while some of these volunteers will lead two large Seder meals in the region, drawing in 100 seniors for each Passover celebration. Photo courtesy JDC.

This Passover, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee will continue its century-plus tradition of delivering matzah to needy Jews and supporting scores of Passover activities – Seder meals, cooking workshops, volunteer opportunities, and cultural performances – in the former Soviet Union and throughout Europe. 20 tons of matzah will be distributed to tens of thousands of elderly Jews living in Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, and Russia. This effort is possible through JDC’s partnerships with the Claims Conference, Jewish Federations, and the IFCJ Food and Medicine Lifeline, JDC’s operational partnership with the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ).

In Kharkov and Kiev, festive Seders will be held for at-risk populations including children, families, and the elderly at local JDC-supported Hesed social welfare centers. Handmade presents will be distributed to bedridden and lonely seniors through volunteer visits, including members of JDC’s Active Jewish Teens youth movement. Cooking competitions, Passover themed lectures, as well as a photo exhibit called “Haggadah and the Attributes of Pesach” are also planned. In Almaty, Kazakhstan, youth and young families will learn how to prepare a house for Passover, and in St. Petersburg, Russia, Passover-themed art seminars, a comedic performance, and concert are scheduled.

In Poland, where JDC has been central to the revival of Jewish life, Passover cooking classes at the Warsaw Jewish Community Center (JCC), community Seders, and a Passover caravan traveling around the country to educate isolated Jewish communities on Passover traditions are underway. In Budapest, at the JDC-supported Balint House JCC, nearly 100 families will attend a special Seder focusing on learning and transmitting holiday traditions through the generations. In Tallinn and Riga, the JDC-supported JCCs hold a series of multigenerational Seder meals. In Romania, community Seders will also commence countrywide, and in Bucharest, a large Seder at the Grand Synagogue will draw in 250 people. In Sofia, Bulgaria, a haggadah-making workshop will occur.

In India, JDC will provide matzah and wine for multiple community-wide Seders. In Egypt, where JDC has been supporting the small Jewish community since the 1950s, JDC will provide nearly 90 pounds of matzah, and other holiday fare, in partnership with the community for elderly Jews in need.