As parts of North America are once again engulfed in the polar vortex, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) continued its twenty-second year of winter relief efforts for tens of thousands of poor Jews across the former Soviet Union. Across eleven times zones and in more than 2,600 locations, JDC delivers thousands of tons of coal, firewood, and gas to needy Jews to heat their homes through the season. JDC’s winter relief aid also includes warm bedding sets as well as extra food and medical supplies for people with limited access to stores and facilities due to inclement weather conditions.

‘While our winter relief program is an annual ritual, its life-saving impact can never be taken for granted. As we bundle up across the northeast, we get a small taste of the brutal temperatures and challenging conditions that thousands of elderly and poor Jews endure during wintertime. It’s a poignant reminder of the critical importance of this program and ongoing presence in the lives of Jews across this vast region,’ said JDC CEO Alan H. Gill.

Among those helped is Dora Pozel, a resident of Nyzhni Vorota located high in the Carpathian Mountains of Ukraine. Pozel, in her 80’s, relies on help provided by JDC during the several months a year that her small village is covered in snow. Pozel receives essential medical and food supplies shipped to her from the local Hesed, one of JDC’s hundreds of welfare centers spread out across the former Soviet Union.

Meanwhile, in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan located several thousand miles away to the east, the local winter relief efforts not only help more than 100 needy Jews, the warm bedding sets that are distributed are ordered from and created by the Training and Production Enterprise of Kyrgyz Society of the Blind and the Deaf. This enterprise, fully staffed by people with visual and hearing impairments, has been utilized in two other previous winter relief seasons.

Now celebrating its 100th year, JDC remains the essential Jewish international humanitarian organization, putting into action the precept that all Jews are responsible for one another and for all humankind. The organization’s ten decades of rescue, poverty alleviation, Jewish community development, leadership training and cultivation, social innovation, and disaster relief work has benefitted millions of people and transformed countless lives in Israel and more than 90 countries since its founding in 1914 at the outset of WW1.