Despite ongoing challenges in Ukraine, Jewish life is thriving and was given new expression with today’s official dedication of the Halom Jewish Community Center (JCC), a new 17,000 square foot facility located in central Kiev. The center — a project of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and Kiev’s Jewish community — serves as a multi-generational hub for Jewish cultural, educational, community, and social service programs and activities. Ukrainian, American, and Israeli government representatives joined local municipal and Jewish leaders, as well as JDC President Stan Rabin, JDC CEO Alan H. Gill, JDC CEO designate David Schizer, JDC FSU Regional Director Michal Frank, and Jerry Silverman, CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), for the ceremony and celebration.
“Today’s dedication of the Halom JCC is yet another step forward in the evolution of Jewish life in Kiev, showcasing the revitalization of Jewish culture, state of the art care for the poorest Jews, and the tenacity of Ukrainian Jews to forge on in their community building despite the issues faced by their country. JDC is honored to have once again partnered with the Jews of Kiev to open this new center, a reflection of their empowered and creative Jewish identity,” said JDC President Stan Rabin and CEO Alan H. Gill.
The Halom JCC, which has been open for two months, is a multipurpose center housing a variety of organizations and services. They include: Jewish Family Service (JFS), where at-risk families are aided and displaced Jews from Ukraine’s east are given opportunities to seamlessly integrate into their new location, and a JDC office. Halom JCC has early childhood programs, baby and prenatal yoga, speech therapy, and mental health assistance. Classes range from music to Hebrew and English language courses, from cooking, arts & crafts, and dance, to sports hobby groups. Teens can attend or take advantage of the JCC-based Youth Club, leadership-training program, Sunday school, cinema club, vocational assistance program, weekend Shabbat experiences, or tours to historic Jewish sites in Kiev.
Kiev, home to the largest Jewish community in Ukraine with an estimated 60,000 + Jews, has numerous synagogues, community programs and institutions, schools and cultural offerings, all demonstrating the vibrancy of Jewish life in the capital city.
JDC has been a major player in Ukrainian Jewish life in the post-Soviet period, operating today 4 major offices and supporting a network of 32 Hesed social welfare centers serving tens of thousands of Jews in need in more than 1,000 locations across Ukraine. JDC also supports 21 JCCs, runs Jewish family retreats and informal Jewish educational opportunities, and operates the decade old METSUDA program, a highly successful young adult leadership training initiative which has more than 250 graduates who have become active in their Jewish communities.
JDC’s long history working with Ukrainian Jews dates back nearly to the group’s founding 102 years ago. JDC worked with the American Relief Administration in 1921 to administer an aid program for Ukrainians impacted by war and famine, including the Jewish community. Additionally, Agro-Joint, established in 1924, created Jewish agricultural colonies and industrial schools in Ukraine and Crimea.