JDC Field Blog

Spreading Chanukah’s Miracle of Light

Yulia Rukavishkova, 89-years-old, Kishinev, Moldova, a client of the IFCJ Lifeline, an operational partnership of JDC and IFCJ.

Yulia Rukavishkova, 89-years-old, Kishinev, Moldova, a client of the IFCJ Lifeline, an operational partnership of JDC and IFCJ. photo: Vladimir Shraga

Each year we celebrate Chanukah by remembering the miracle of light. Left with only one day’s worth of oil, the Maccabees found themselves with eight days of light.

Now, we gather for celebrations complete with dreidels, latkes or bunuelos, and the nightly lighting of the menorah. For many of us, even as we acknowledge this special time, having light is something we take for granted.

But some of our fellow Jews do not have family, community, or the ability to celebrate the holiday, and lack light – from literal electricity or from a sense of hope in their lives.

Far too many Jews around the world, especially the elderly, are enduring darkness and loneliness, unable to meet their basic needs on meager incomes.

But with the help of our partners – the Claims Conference, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ), and Jewish Federations – JDC is helping to restore dignity and hope for thousands of Jews around the world.

Through the IFCJ Lifeline, our operational partnership with IFCJ in the former Soviet Union, we help ensure some of the poorest Jews in the world, too often forgotten, have access to the food and medicine they need for survival. It’s one less worry, especially in the winter months when utility costs rise as temperatures drop.

Yulia, an 89-year-old who once was a popular teacher, only receives $73 each month through her pension. However, $50 goes straight to paying her utility bills, leaving little to cover food and the medicine she needs. Without assistance, she’s unsure how she would manage.

Galina Zinchehko, 59-years-old, Kishinev, Moldova, a client of the IFCJ Lifeline, an operational partnership of JDC and IFCJ. Photo Credit: Vladimir Shraga

Elsewhere in the same Moldovan city of Kishinev, Galina and her husband sit in the dark, only turning on their lights when absolutely necessary in order to minimize electricity bills. Struggling to survive on a pension of only $40 a month, 59-year-old Galina receives from the Lifeline not only the critical food and medicine she needs, but also a sense of positivity toward the future, in the midst of darkness.

Over the next eight nights, as we celebrate the miracle of Chanukah, we will remember those like Yulia and Galina who are without light, and who benefit from the spark we pass onto them through our support and sense of family.