Read how JDC’s Margery Kohrman Saving Memory program in the former Soviet Union is helping to improve the quality of life for Alzheimer’s disease sufferers while changing attitudes and social perceptions.
On the 25th anniversary of the leadership mission that led to JDC's return to the Soviet Union after an absence of 50 years, JDC's Executive Director of Former Soviet Union Programs describes the challenges facing JDC in that region today.
Today’s is a date not easily forgotten: November 9th, 1938 marked the beginning of Kristallnacht (the night of broken glass), the series of pogroms committed by Hitler’s stormtroopers and civilians alike against Jews in Nazi Germany and Austria. Jewish homes, stores, and synagogues were ransacked and destroyed, leaving streets filled with the glass that gives this event its name.
As Yom Kippur descends upon us, Jewish communities around the world prepare for the traditional holiday customs: pre-sundown meal, synagogue services, fasting, breaking the fast…and of course, intense personal reflection. However, Day of Atonement rituals were not always so easily understood or embraced.
Among the atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis against Jews was the confiscation of property, including synagogues, Jewish schools, cemeteries, other land, art, jewelry, and anything else of value. Worse still, in some cases, proceeds from the sale of this property by the Nazis actually helped fund war-related activities that we know all too well took the lives of 6 million Jews and many others. After the Holocaust, these properties were nationalized by the communist governments that were in power for more than 40 years. Since that time, efforts have been made to achieve some small measure of justice by helping both individuals and communities get back this wrongly seized property (or more often, financial compensation in lieu of the property).
As communities the world over commemorate the Holocaust, JDC’s 21 Jewish Service Corps (JSC) fellows—currently serving in year-long volunteer positions in Belarus, Ethiopia, Germany, India, Israel, Rwanda, Slovakia, Turkey, and Ukraine—connected in Jerusalem for a week-long seminar to share their overseas experiences. This morning, following a poignant period of silence outside JDC’s Jerusalem office, the fellows memorialized the 6 million murdered Jews by gathering on the Givat Ram campus of Hebrew University to recite kaddish and participate in a peer-led discussion on JDC’s renewal work in communities with dark histories.
With the Haiti crisis continuing to dominate our thoughts, we’d like to highlight a little-known piece of JDC history that connects Haiti with International Holocaust Remembrance Day, commemorated yesterday and each year on January 27.
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