Helping Jews Deal with the New Normal in Ukraine
(Photo: Shneor Schiff)[/caption]
The celebration of the High Holy Days over the past week has been bittersweet for Ukrainian Jews displaced by the ongoing conflict in the eastern region of the country.
As they adjust to their new normal, The Fellowship has faithfully offered needed assistance. Chabad.org explains:
It’s Sasha Gordon’s second year celebrating the High Holidays away from his home in Donetsk. He was forced to flee last summer after war broke out between pro-Russian rebels and the Ukrainian government, leaving together with most of Donetsk’s 15,000 Jews. Now jobless and living in a rented apartment in Kiev with his wife and three children, Gordon joined 150 fellow Jewish natives of the city in ushering in the Jewish New Year at a hotel in central Kiev, the new focal point of their transplanted Jewish community.
“We can’t lie to ourselves; there’s no road back to Donetsk,” says Gordon, 40, acknowledging that he no longer considers his circumstances temporary. “We’re in Kiev now. Yes, it’s a different life, but this is what happened.”
As the reality of a frozen conflict in eastern Ukraine sets in—and a death toll estimated by the United Nations to be approaching 8,000 people—refugees from the region’s largest city of Donetsk are trying to rebuild their lives elsewhere. In Kiev, Donetsk’s chief rabbi and Chabad-Lubavitch emissary Rabbi Pinchas Vishedski and his wife, Dina, have established a Jewish community center servicing internally displaced persons.
Rabbi Vishedski is a longtime friend of The Fellowship. We have supported him and his ministry to Ukraine’s Jewish population for years, increasing our assistance during the ongoing crisis to help him meet the growing needs.
Life for these refugees has not been easy.
Gordon had a good job in Donetsk, but he’s finding it nearly impossible to find one in Kiev. He adds that aside from his home city’s Jewish community, no one would have helped him and his family during their time of need. . .
Much of the help has come from the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, founded and run by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein. Although many of Vishedski’s former financial supporters have lost their ability to do so in the current economic crisis, others have stepped forward, including those who sponsored the Rosh Hashanah and upcoming Yom Kippur programs.
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