Ukraine has one of the largest, and at the same time one of the poorest, Jewish communities in the world. Out of approximately 300,000 Jews living in Ukraine, tens of thousands qualify as elderly or families in need. The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews provides assistance to this community, as it does to many other communities in the former Soviet Union, both in routine situations and in states of emergency.
The Fellowship, headed by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, announced Wednesday that it would transfer $1 million in emergency assistance to Jewish communities in Ukraine, following a multitude of requests received from rabbis and Jewish organizations in the country.
The Fellowship has responded to these requests by transferring monetary aid to increase security at educational institutions and Jewish community centers, as well as provide humanitarian aid to tens of thousands of elderly and families in desperate need.
“After numerous conversations with Jewish leaders in Ukraine this week, we realize that the situation on the ground is critical,” says Rabbi Eckstein. “Tens of thousands of Jews are desperate for immediate aid in the form of food, heating, medication and medical treatments. Rabbis and community leaders feel threatened and want to increase security around schools and other institutions.
"As of now, we have approved the transfer of $1 million to secure Jewish institutions (in Ukraine), as well as additional funding for the supply of basic necessities to those in need throughout the country. Our donors, Christians who are supporters of Israel from around the world, are committed to the security and wellbeing of Jews in distress everywhere.
"This is an emergency situation. I call on the Jewish communities in the US, as well as in Europe, in addition to the Israeli government, to increase their involvement in this issue."
The president of the Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS (FJC), businessman Lev Leviev, said: "I commend the actions of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, which stand behind our friends in need – both in routine situations and the state of emergency that is occurring right now.
"It is heartwarming to see that there are real heroes who remember the disadvantaged and needy and don't forget them at any time."
The Fellowship’s immediate assistance approved for transfer to Ukraine is in addition to an unprecedented $20 million donated by the Fellowship to the former Soviet Union in 2014 alone. In the past 15 years, the Fellowship has contributed more than $150 million to the former Soviet Union. The majority of these funds have been for the purpose of securing basic needs for disadvantaged children and elderly, as well as strengthening the Jewish education system.
Every year, the Fellowship assists some 150,000 people in 16 countries, of which about 60,000 are children and 90,000 are seniors.
Another aspect of this aid is the funding of 100 Jewish day schools from the networks of Ohr Avner, ORT, and Shema Israel, as well the operation of 56 summer camps for Jewish youth. In addition, the Fellowship donates to 15 orphanages and many soup kitchens.
The Fellowship operates in the former Soviet Union through these proxy organizations: The JDC, the Jewish Agency, Keren Hayesod, the Jewish Federation, ORT, FSU, Shema Israel, and Tikva.
Translated by Jason Barnett