From the President: Maidan and More

JDC staff member Alena Druzhynina walks through Maidan to visit vulnerable eldelry in their homes at the start of the crisis in Ukraine.
JDC staff member Alena Druzhynina walks through Maidan to visit vulnerable eldelry in their homes at the start of the crisis in Ukraine.

Penny Blumenstein

Today, we toured Maidan. The square is so much larger than I had imagined. Because it still is filled with tents and surrounded by tires and bricks torn from the pavement, it is easy to imagine it filled with people and police. All along, there are makeshift memorials to honor the 100 dead, which included four members of the Jewish community.

But what really moved me was the emotional reaction of two of our professionals.

Alena, whose photo we shared with you delivering food from a backpack during the confrontations, was explaining the chain of events. It was obvious the impact it had upon her. She spoke about her experiences and those of her friends. I looked over at Anna, who with her family  mother, father and husband  had all come to stand with those fighting for change. This was the first time she had returned, and she was visibly shaken.

It set the tone for the rest of the day as we met with government officials, experts in economics, and observers who tried to paint a picture of the problems and the future of Ukraine.

Our day ended with a bright spot.

We met with young people who, through various organized activities, are making a Jewish life appealing and exciting for many of their peers.

They are our hope for a brighter future.

Penny Blumenstein is the President of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

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