On the Ground in Kiev

UkraineFlagby Yevgeniy Klig

Along with the rest of the world, I have been closely following the ongoing developments in Ukraine. For me, a native of Ukraine and the Senior Director of Russian Speaking Jewish Programming at Moishe House, the current events have been both a cause of great concern as well as inspiration. As I was sitting with the residents of Moishe House Kiev in their living room in late February, I couldn’t help but be filled with pride for what these young adults are doing in a tumultuous situation, as well as sadness for the violence and uncertainty of Ukraine’s future.

Moishe House Kiev is located only a few metro stops away from Maidan Nezalezhnosti, the epicenter of the original protests. “For several days we stayed in our house too afraid to come out on the streets. As public transportation stopped running, we had to cancel several of our events”, writes Anna B, a resident of Moishe House Kiev.  “Even when transportation resumed, not a lot of people were out and about and attending programs.” However, the house continued to keep its doors open, providing a refuge for the young adult Jewish community away from the tension, a place where they can gather with fellow community members.

Over the last two weeks, since the new government took power, a counter-protest movement has swept the country, taking place primarily in Ukraine’s Southern and Eastern predominantly Russian-speaking regions. Pro-Russian rallies have materialized in cities such as Kharkiv, Donetsk, and Odessa, clashing with the protesters supporting the new government. Russian troops are on the ground in Crimea, the country’s southern region.

This volatile situation has caused an unpredictable and uncertain future for all Ukrainians, including the residents of Moishe House Kiev and Moishe House Odessa.  The possibility of an armed conflict with Russia has caused many to reconsider their plans for the near future. As the economic situation has become increasingly unstable, some of our residents and community members have been placed on unpaid leave from work or stopped receiving student stipends that they depend on for their livelihood. Thanks to the support of our partners supporting Moishe House in Ukraine, including, Genesis Philanthropy Group, Joyce and Irving Goldman Family Foundation, UJA-Federation of New York, Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago , The Goldsmith Foundation, Inc, The Nathan and Lillian Weinberg Family Foundation, and THE ASSOCIATED: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, Moishe House has been able to help alleviate some of these economic hardships with increased financial support.

In addition the financial support, our residents have shared how the overall Moishe House community has been has been a continuous source of encouragement and hope. For these plugged-in 20somethings, they are appreciative of the support they feel from Moishe House residents around the globe. Skype calls with Moishe House Warsaw and emails of encouragement from the residents of Beijing and New York City Houses reflect the strength of the Moishe House network. I am extremely proud to be a part of an organization that unites Jewish young adults across national and political lines and creates a real community of people who support one another in difficult times.

Yevgeniy Klig is Senior Director of RSJ Programming at Moishe House