The Jewish Agency will extend immediate emergency assistance to the Jewish community of Ukraine and will help secure Jewish institutions in the country, the Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky announced Saturday.
"The Jewish community of Ukraine, which counts some 200,000 members, is one of most vibrant Jewish communities in the world, with dozens of active Jewish organizations and institutions. Recent events have shown that we must strengthen these institutions' security measures. We have a moral responsibility to ensure the safety and security of Ukraine's Jews," said Sharansky.
Last week saw the worst violence in Ukraine since the protests began, when 60 protestors were killed in Kiev on Thursday, bringing the total number of people who have been killed since Tuesday to nearly 100.
Earlier Saturday, the Ukrainian parliament declared President Viktor Yanukovich constitutionally unable to carry out his duties on Saturday and set an early election for May 25.
Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko said parliament's vote on Saturday to oust President Viktor Yanukovich amounted to the fall of a dictator.
On the same day, Tymoshenko was freed from the hospital where she had been held under prison guard for most of the time since she was convicted in 2011.
"Our homeland will from today on be able to see the sun and sky as a dictatorship has ended," she told reporters after her release from the hospital where she had been held under prison guard for most of the time since she was jailed in 2011.
Over the weekend, Sharansky convened an emergency meeting at his Jerusalem office in order to conduct a situation assessment and determine the Jewish community's immediate needs due to the recent violence in Kiev. Speaking to Jewish Agency leadership, local Jewish leaders expressed concern for the safety of the Jewish community if the situation escalates further. "We are in constant contact with the leadership of the Ukrainian Jewish community and are following the events closely. The Jewish Agency's assistance aims to increase security at Jewish communal institutions in Ukraine," said Sharansky.
The immediate assistance will come from The Jewish Agency's Emergency Assistance Fund for Jewish Communities. The fund was established in the wake of the horrific March 2012 terror attack in Toulouse, in which a Jewish teacher and three Jewish schoolchildren were murdered.
Dr. Misha Galperin, President and CEO of Jewish Agency International Development, said: "The Jewish Agency had established the Emergency Assistance Fund for Jewish Communities two years ago. We are seeking to replenish the fund now in order to help the Ukrainian Jewish communities with their safety and security costs."
The Ukrainian Jewish community is one of the largest Jewish communities in the world, with some 200,000 members. Most Jews reside in the capital, Kiev, and there are thriving communities in Odessa, Lvov, and Dnepropetrovsk.
During 70 years of Communist rule, Jewish gatherings were prohibited in Ukraine, but after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Jewish institutions began to develop in the country, transforming the Jewish community.