On Crimean Peninsula, Building Jewish Community

Despite the political crisis that has plagued Ukraine and the Crimean Peninsula since 2014, JDC's activities in cities like Sevastopol and Simferopol continue unabated.

September 9, 2015

Despite the political crisis that has plagued Ukraine and the Crimean Peninsula since 2014, JDC’s activities in cities like Sevastopol and Simferopol continue unabated.

JDC continues to be the fundamental engine of communal Jewish life and renewal on the peninsula, with summer programs, winter family retreats, and more.

In July, a summer retreat held by Sevastopol’s ‘Hesed Shahar’ social welfare center drew about 100 children and youth at-risk and their families to a seaside facility for a week of activities and events for all age groups.

Young madrichim (counselors) from the city’s Hillel ran daily programming on Jewish history and traditions, with the youngest children listening drawing the characters and making art projects related to the stories. Parents and children together participated in music classes, sports tournaments, and — of course — the retreat’s famous talent show.

As a group, the participants celebrated Shabbat and then welcomed two teenagers into the world of Jewish adulthood at a joint bar and bat mitzvah ceremony.

Also this summer, the ‘Nevatim’ family retreat was held for the 16th time, this time in the village of Saky, about an hour’s drive from Simferopol. The retreat brought together 88 children and parents and 14 madrichim, young activists from the city’s Jewish community.

‘Family retreats are an extremely powerful instrument of community-building,’ said Victoria Plotkina, director of the Simferopol Hesed.

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