Feb 28, 2014

Unrest in Ukraine


What's Happening in Ukraine and How Federation Helps

It started in November with peaceful protests against government actions to strengthen political ties with Russia instead of the European Union. It snowballed over the next few months into violent confrontations between police and protestors, resulting in dozens dead, hundreds injured, a fugitive ex-President, and scenes of destruction that have gripped the world. Russia is performing massive military exercises near the border and pro-Russia gunmen have seized government buildings in Crimea. And it’s not over.

Although the estimated 300,000 Jewish residents in the capital city of Kiev and throughout Ukraine are not outright targets of violence, it has touched them like everyone else. Some Jews in Kiev live close to Independence Square, site of protest encampments and some of February’s deadliest clashes, and are afraid to leave their houses. On February 23, the Giymat Rosa Synagogue in Zaporizhia, 250 miles southeast of Kiev, was firebombed. There are concerns about deepening divisions in the country and the rise of the radical right. But Jewish Federations and our partner agencies, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the Jewish Agency for Israel, and World ORT, are there. Since we’ve supported Jewish life and organizations in Ukraine for decades, we were able to step up when the need for help intensified.

  • JDC has activated its emergency response network to ensure continued home deliveries of food, medicine, heating and cooking fuel, and sustained life-saving care at home for the elderly. JDC has increased security at select Jewish communal institutions and Hesed social welfare centers. For updates, please visit JDC's Ukraine dashboard.
  • The Jewish Agency has tapped its Emergency Assistance Fund, started in 2012, to bolster security at Ukraine’s many Jewish institutions, including synagogues, yeshivas and community centers. For more on the Jewish Agency's actions, please see this update and the Jewish Agency’s website.
  • World ORT has launched a campaign to raise $200,000 to fund increased security at four of its schools in Ukraine. Each school has several hundred students, many of whom travel to class through now-dangerous areas; the father of a student at the Chernovtsy school was killed during clashes in Kiev on February 20. Plans include hiring additional security guards and installing closed-circuit TV and alarm systems on school grounds. For more information on World ORT’s Ukraine programs and needs, please read ORT’s Ukraine prospectus and school security plan.
  • Additionally, NCSJ, which advocates on behalf of Jews in Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic States and Eurasia is sending out frequent communication briefs informed by various governmental, non-governmental, and Jewish communal sources. To receive updates, please visit NCSJ’s website.

These efforts, and so many more, are being funded by Jewish Federation dollars. A donation to our Federation’s Annual Campaign helps ensure that we can continue to help Jews around the world during times of crisis. Visit our Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County’s donate page to help make a difference.