Update on JCCs in Ukraine #4
Dear Friends, We continue to witness the atrocious tragedy still wreaking havoc in Ukraine and at the same time the tremendous generosity of so many. At JCC Global we focus on ways in which we can be of help to the JCCs/Heseds in Ukraine, the JCCs and Jewish communities in Europe that are absorbing tens of thousands of refugees and the Community Centers in Israel that are welcoming new Olim and refugees to their local communities. We also want to remind the JCC Global family that our hearts go out to our friends and colleagues in Russian speaking countries. While they are not under direct fire, they are going through painful times. We urge you to reach out to them with a smile and not to leave them behind. Kiev, Kharkiv, Odessa and Dnipro are major centers of Jewish life in Ukraine, let us not forget some of the smaller JCCs that are fighting for their lives. Below are three examples.
NOEK - Mykolaiv JCC The coverage of the destruction of Mykolaiv is horrific. Yet, Polina and Misha Goldenberg, the founders of the Hesed/JCC, continue to serve the community, including 200 Holocaust survivors, and 600 other Hesed recipients, at great risk to themselves and others in the community. Despite the dire situation, the JCC in Mykolaiv celebrated Purim and they are trying to maintain some semblance of normalcy. Like many others, the JCC is filled with reserves of food and other supplies for the Hesed recipients.
The Hesed Besht Khmelnitsky Welfare Fund Igor Ratushny is the long-time Director of Hesed Besht, that operates in four regions of Ukraine: Khmelnitsky, Ternopol, Volyn, and Rivne. Prior to the war, approximately 5,000 Jews and their family members, who live in 101 locations, are registered with them. They provide many types of services, mainly, medicine, homecare, moked (help center), food packages, meals-on-wheels, medical services, winter relief and more. Given the situation today, they have launched the “Let's Connect” program, which brings together about 150 people, with social events being held every day- even now!
They also operate a Call Center that calls up to 200 people every day, accepting requests and inquiring about the needs of community members. Volunteers and psychologists work at the Call Center to address people's psychological needs. Currently, they have stockpiled food, diapers and detergents - which help people in critical conditions survive. All these services are provided by their paid staff and volunteers.
JCC Beit Graham, Krivy Rig, Ukraine Beit Graham Jewish Community Center is part of Hesed Hana Charitable Foundation will celebrate 25 years this coming May. Oksana Mantuzova grew up through the ranks of the JCC and was recently appointed as its director. It implements a wide range of social and cultural programs reaching out (before the war) over 3500 Jewish community members of all ages in Krivy Rig and surrounding periphery. JCC Beit Graham works as a cultural center with a spectrum of educational programs for all ages and Hesed Hana as a social center for elderly, individuals with special needs and families in crisis.
Since the outbreak of the war, they are trying helping 1200 individuals in need:
providing the 12 step course of first aid for community members
collecting necessary supplies (food, clothes, medicines) for refugees from other regions that arrive in our community (more than 1200 kg)
collecting supplies for the army
providing answers for specific medial needs for participants of JCC/Hesed
providing supplies and food for Jewish holidays, for example Purim and Passover
providing zoom meetings for Hesed clients
This week, “Absorbing Together”, קולטים יחד initiative was launched by the Israel Association of Community Centers together with the Ministry of Aliya and Integration, Ministry of Welfare and Social Services, Ministry of Culture and Sports, Ministry of Economy and Finance, dozens of businesses and major NGOs in Israel. This wide collation promises to provide a 5-tier absorption process to the newly arriving Olim from Ukraine, Russia and Belarus. Currently some 6000 Olim have arrived in Israel and the estimation is that several tens of thousands will arrive by the end of the year (The number of refugees is currently about 7000 and they are taken care of by the Ministry of Welfare and Social Services and JDC). Mobilizing the community building network of close to 200 community centers in more than 1000 locations, IACC will ensure that every person will receive adequate support from the minute of arrival at the airport, through the weeks of interim housing until settling in a specific community. It will provide a one stop shop call center for Olim and volunteers and a wide array of programs and activities addressing physical, economical, social and emotional needs. There has been an outpouring of requests to participate in this endeavour and the entire program will unfold during the upcoming weeks. Please continue to support these worthy causes and consider a donation. Praying for peace and healing, JCC Staff Team