Ukrainian Jews will have to choose between heating and food in winter, survey says

Survey of Ukrainian Jewry shows desperate winter ahead as foundations, NGOs, community centers and countless donors are stepping up to provide Ukrainian Jews, trapped in war-torn cities, with means to survive

Itamar Eichner|
The Ukrainian Jews will have to choose between heating and food as the country heads into a second winter of the ongoing war with Russia, said a new survey published Monday.
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  • A survey of 600 members of Jewish communities across Ukraine shows that three out of every four people foresees having to choose between heating and food amid power shortages and rising costs. Around 68% think they won't be able to withstand the costs of keeping their home from freezing. Some 56% doubt that they have enough warm clothes to get through winter.
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    סיוע לפליטים מאוקראינה
    סיוע לפליטים מאוקראינה
    Israel sending aid to Ukraine aid war
    (Photo: International Fellowship of Christians and Jews)
    Power and gas shortages are already being felt in Kyiv and many other cities that were subject to Russian bombardment, which focused on civilian installations and infrastructure.
    The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, which conducted the survey, is shipping an aid package worth $6.5 million, with heating equipment and food to people in Ukraine.
    Refugees who escaped their homes during Russia's onslaught will also receive help in their efforts to return and prepare it for the freezing winter ahead.
    Rabbi Shalom Gotlib, the chief rabbi in the city of Mykolayiv, said, "People are preparing for a challenging winter amid power shortages. We will supply ovens and firewood, since many shelters have no heating available, other than burning wood. We're purchasing generators as well, to cope with power shortages."
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    אפלה בקייב. הפסקות חשמל תכופות בערי אוקראינה
    אפלה בקייב. הפסקות חשמל תכופות בערי אוקראינה
    Kyiv in the dark
    (Photo: Getty Images)
    "At the same time, we're paying people's electricity bills to help them out. Crews are going through the city, fixing people's shattered glasses and doors that were torn off their hinges in the attacks. Anything to prevent the cold from entering the house."
    Rabbi Shaul Horwitz from the city of Vinnytsia, has an even more challenging goal. Not only is he trying to get generators and food, he also has to look after refugees staying in Jewish Day School Or-Avner in the city. "We're trying to get as much light and heating as possible so people won't freeze."
    In Ukraine's Jewish Community Federation, which oversees 180 Jewish communities nationwide, said this is the toughest challenge they've had to face since the war started. Federation chairman, Rabbi Meir Stembler, said, "We've had plenty of challenges in the past, but supplying everyone with food and power this winter is the one we're losing sleep over. We're not sure we'll get to everybody.
    "We're helping synagogues and community centers with generators. It's a lot of hard logistical work purchasing equipment from surrounding countries, since generators are lacking here. We're doing everything we can to keep people from freezing and approaching all kinds of charities and foundations, and thankfully many have stepped up."
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    בניינים הרוסים במיקולאייב
    בניינים הרוסים במיקולאייב
    Destruction in Mykolayiv
    (Photo: EPA)
    Federation's CEO Alina Taplitzkyi, said, "It's obvious we won't be able to give a generator to every single family, but in the upcoming weeks we'll distribute tens of thousands of portable chargers to grant them a few more hours of power. We'll also be giving out ovens, blankets and warm clothes, and we'll be happy for any donation to help that cause."
    Since the war began, the Federation has been able to provide $18 million worth of assistance to multiple local organizations, including helping about 4,500 Ukrainian Jews came to Israel through a dedicated center in Kishinev, Moldova.
    President of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews Yael Eckstein, said, "Even before the war began, we were preparing for an elevated level of assistance for Jewish communities in Ukraine. On top of that, we've set up an Aliyah center in Kishinev, through which thousands have been able to find refuge in Israel.
    "We're very thankful to the more than 600,000 donors who stepped up to help Jews in the diaspora."

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