One Month Ahead of Ukraine War Anniversary, JDC Widens Care for Jews in Europe

JDC Jewish  communal volunteers distribute critically needed aid packages to internally displaced Jews who have found refuge in Odessa, Ukraine, while the nearly year-long war initiated by Russia wages on. (Photo by Inna Vdovichenko)

As the world prepares to commemorate one year since the start of the crisis in Ukraine, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) continues and is expanding its life-saving humanitarian-relief efforts for tens of thousands of vulnerable Jews in Ukraine and Jewish refugees in Europe. This includes ever-widening aid to survive the winter months; material support such as food, medicine, housing and utility subsidies; integration support for refugees in European Jewish communities; and trauma support through six such centers around Ukraine.

To mark the one-year observance, JDC is also distributing a downloadable Shabbat for Ukrainian Jews toolkit for Feb. 24, urging Jews worldwide to incorporate stories of Ukraine’s Jews into their Shabbat practice. The toolkit includes specialized blessings over candles and challah, as well as the traditional Shabbat song “Shalom Aleichem,” featuring personal testimonies of Ukrainian Jews served by the organization and information on critical needs faced by Ukrainian Jews and Jewish communities.

The toolkit was released in in partnership with the Jewish Federations of North America.

“Although the crisis no longer carries every headline, the most vulnerable Ukrainian Jews, including the elderly, the new poor, the internally displaced and refugees, are still living through this conflict every day, and we must redouble our efforts to ensure their ongoing care and community life now and for the future,” said JDC CEO Ariel Zwang. “We can take a pause and note all we have achieved—and acknowledge an endless debt of gratitude to our heroic staff and volunteers, and to our stalwart partners and supporters—but our work continues.”

She added: “We urge the Jewish community and all people to join us sharing stories of Ukrainian Jewish perseverance and hope to remind the public that more needs to be done to support this community.”

In the lead-up to the conflict and thereafter, JDC expanded its three-decade operation in the region to ensure humanitarian aid to Jews remaining in Ukraine as well as the thousands of refugees who fled to Poland, Moldova, Hungary and Romania, among other European countries.

To date, JDC has:

  • continued lifesaving services for more than 43,000 Jews in Ukraine, including winter aid to more than 22,000 people;
  • evacuated more than 13,000 Jews from Ukraine in rescue operations that began on Feb. 25, 2022;
  • aided 40,000 Ukrainian refugees in partnership with European Jewish communities;
  • distributed 800-plus tons of humanitarian assistance in Ukraine and among refugees in Moldova;
  • provided nonsectarian medical aid and psychosocial support to 20,000 Ukrainian refugees and support to medical facilities in Ukraine.

JDC’s Ukraine crisis response work has been carried out by its professionals, local Jewish volunteers and community partners around Ukraine and Europe. Its ability to deploy this response has been a result of the tens of millions of dollars in generous support provided by the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) and local Jewish Federations, the Claims Conference, International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, individuals, families, corporations and foundations.

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