All eyes are on Ukraine and we thank those of you who have shown care and concern for our many friends there. Ukraine is home to some 200,000 Jews in more than 30 cities making it one of the largest Jewish communities in the world. Since the early 90’s several outstanding JCCs opened up, and in many smaller communities the JCC work is integrated with the work of the welfare centers known as Hessed (in Hebrew, kindness/charity). Many of you are asking: What can I do to help?
First and foremost, we encourage you to reach out to your friends and colleagues in Ukraine and send a personal email. Find out how they are doing and if there is anything you or your JCC can do to help. In past times of crises, there were JCCs that sent books and games or arranged a zoom call with members. These small gestures will warm their hearts and let them know that you are thinking about them. If you do not have a JCC partner in Ukraine, you are welcome to write to email@example.com and we will connect you to one of the many JCC leaders.
For those of you who would like to contribute financially to support the work of JCCs and Jewish communities in Ukraine, we recommend donating via JDC at this link.
JCC Global will hold a zoom call on Wednesday, March 2nd at 1:00 PM NY time/ 8 PM Israel time with representatives from the JCCs in Ukraine to get an insider's view of the situation. If you would like to join, please sign up here to receive the zoom link. The call will be held in English and will not be recorded.
Some background on JCCs in Ukraine Since the early days, JCC Global works hand in hand with JDC to revive and rebuild Jewish communal life across Ukraine and, in fact, the entire region. Those of you familiar with our global programs remember well the high quality of programming and staff coming from these Jewish communities. Over the years, community life has blossomed. Young families and youth receive Jewish education, attend Jewish summer camps, go on Birthright to Israel, and more importantly, assume leadership positions in the local Jewish community and beyond. Since tensions began in November, JDC is working around the clock to ensure uninterrupted humanitarian aid including food, medicine, winter relief, and emergency assistance for the most vulnerable Jews - this aid benefits nearly 40,000 needy Jewish elderly and poor families in Ukraine. The role of JCC Global JCCs in Ukraine and in the entire FSU region are affiliated with JCC Global via the JDC FSU Department. JCC Global provides to JCCs in Ukraine a variety of opportunities for capacity building and the development of global Jewish partnerships. We work closely with JCC/Hessed leaders in Cherkasi, Dnepro, Donetsk, Kharkiv, Kherson, Khmelnitsky, Kiev, Konotop, Krivoy Rog, Lubny, Luhansk, Lutsk, Melitopol, Nikolaev, Odessa, Poltava, Shostka, Sumy, and Zaporozhia.
JCCs in Dnipro, Kharkiv, Khmelnitsky, Krivoy Rog, Odessa, and Zaporizhzhia, participated in the “Amitim- Fellows- A Global Leadership program” where they partnered with JCCs all over the world in a variety of global projects.
More than 30 JCCs/Hesseds participated in the Dr. Mark Ramer JCC Global Hubs and had the opportunity to learn, share and connect with JCC colleagues from around the world.
Representatives from JCCs/Hesseds in Ukraine participated in all JCC Global conferences, seminars, delegations to regional conferences, and study visits.
What is the situation NOW? Like many other Jewish communities around the world, during the past two years, the JCCs were mainly addressing the challenges of the pandemic. They serve the community and found many creative ways to do so. They developed hybrid programming and greatly expanded their online offerings. They kept close contact with members of the community and continue with holiday celebrations, arts and culture programs, Jewish education programs, and more. Since November, JCCs/Hesseds continued their work serving Jews of all ages and backgrounds in their local communities - from young children and families, to youth, young adults, seniors, and everyone in between. As events escalate, they, like all other Ukrainian citizens, are trying to keep the safety and security of all members and especially the vulnerable ones. JDC, together with local and international partners, are working to ensure a united emergency response. While we believe that Jewish identity rests more securely on positive Jewish experiences, it is in times like this that we join hands and hearts with our sisters and brothers and pray for peace. For more information, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org Shabbat Shalom, JCC Global Team