JDC on the Front Lines

Felix, an elderly client who receives food and medicine from JDC, at his home in Sevastopol.
Felix, an elderly client who receives food and medicine from JDC, at his home in Sevastopol.

Amid the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, JDC continues its work caring for the country's most vulnerable Jews – like 74-year-old Felix of Sevastopol, a city of about 340,000 on the Crimean peninsula.

A native of Russia, Felix moved to Sevastopol at the age of 30 and quickly fell for the charms of the port city.

“When I came to Sevastopol for the first time, I was so impressed with its history and architecture that I fell in love with the city and made up my mind to stay here forever and ever,” he says.

The pensioner has found himself totally alone. Estranged from his only son, Felix relies on JDC and our Hesed Shahar social welfare center to ease his feelings of isolation and help meet his critical needs.

“The center helps relieve my loneliness. I always find educated and smart people there ­ former professors, doctors, journalists, teachers,” he says. “There's no greater happiness than to be around people who understand you.”

Now, with fear and tension gripping the city, Sevastopol’s Hesed provides hope and support to Felix and a thousand other vulnerable elderly and at-risk children. The Hesed is continuing its regular programs, but activated an emergency response and sent caregivers to clients' homes to distribute food and medication. JDC staff has also established an emergency phone chain to stay connected with clients round-the-clock and provide for their needs.

JDC operates 7 Hesed centers in Southern Ukraine: Odessa, Nikolayev, Kherson, Kirovograd as well as in Crimea in Simferopol, Sevastopol, and Feodosia. The region has a Jewish population of about 70,000 and JDC serves 13,700 vulnerable elderly and 1,800 at-risk children. In Crimea alone, the Jewish population is about 17,000, with about 4,000 vulnerable elderly and 1,000 at-risk children.

JDC has also stepped up security at its Hesed facilities as needed.

To stay connected to our emergency crisis response and view updates in real time, visit our Ukraine Crisis Dashboard.

JDC is primarily funded through the Jewish Federations of North America. Key JDC funders also include: The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, the Maurice and Vivienne Wohl Charitable Foundation, World Jewish Relief (UK), UIA Federations Canada, and tens of thousands of individual donors.

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