This week, I returned from Ukraine after a week-long trip visiting JDC’s programs, clients, and staff in both Odessa and Kiev -- the first time I was personally exposed to the crucial work JDC does in the former Soviet Union.
Earlier this month, the Jews of besieged Donetsk -- the city in eastern Ukraine caught in the crossfires of much of the tension and violence plaguing the former Soviet republic -- celebrated a very special Sukkot.
One of Moscow's largest Jewish community centers, the Nikitskaya, was renamed in honor of Ralph Goldman, one of the Jewish world's most accomplished leaders who died, at 100, in Jerusalem earlier this month.
The Symposium wasn't a chance to pontificate about future political moves in a highly uncertain time -- it was a unique opportunity to learn about very concrete aid that is being delivered to Jews in their hour of need.
"We had the opportunity to meet with the Israeli attaché and the German and American ambassadors. They gave us a perspective of the political situation and the prospects and difficulties facing the new Ukraine government."
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.
Post-election tensions flared into a raging battle between separatists and government forces at the international airport in Donetsk on Monday, representing the worst outbreak of violence in this eastern Ukraine city since the start of the Ukraine crisis. Through it all, JDC-supported Hesed workers have continued to care for the city’s most vulnerable Jews. View this latest gallery of photos from Donetsk, which show how Jewish life and the efforts of a caring community continue even in the midst of an ongoing crisis.
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