What was already a chaotic and violent situation in Ukraine has only grown more dire for those who live there, particularly the nation’s Jewish community. In the past day, a Jewish woman who worked at a Fellowship-funded kindergarten was killed, a Fellowship-supported Jewish center was hit by rockets, and more rockets landed near a synagogue. Because of the worsening threat, The Fellowship has announced additional aid, with Rabbi Eckstein stating, “We will do everything in our power to ensure that no Jew will be left homeless, go hungry, or not be able to emigrate on aliyah to Israel”:
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Increasing violence in eastern Ukraine in recent weeks has left dozens dead and more than 100 wounded, and drastically escalated the humanitarian crisis in the region. In response, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship) is providing a three-month emergency grant of $650,000 for medicine, food, housing, and security to Jews caught in this crisis in the port city of Mariupol and surrounding areas. This is in addition to the $10 million it has already provided since the start of the conflict a year ago. Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of The Fellowship, said, “We get worrisome updates constantly; our prayers are with those in need. We will do everything in our power to ensure that no Jew will be left homeless, go hungry, or not be able to emigrate on aliyah to Israel.”
David Mondshine of Chabad’s Federation of Jewish Communities (FJC) in the former Soviet Union, which is funded by The Fellowship, added that “The general ambiance in Mariupol in Ukraine is of fear, especially when people thought the situation ended and now it began once again…People are confused as of now, and no one can say whether the violence will spread out to different cities as well, or when it will end.”
Last week, CNN reported that a senior U.S. State Department official on board Secretary of State John Kerry’s plane to Kiev described eastern Ukraine as a “dire” security situation, and warned of a “grave acceleration of the fighting on the ground.”
The Fellowship‘s immediate response to allot an additional $650,000 in emergency humanitarian aid will provide three months of medicine, food, supplies for soup kitchens, and security for synagogues and other Jewish institutions in the embattled cities of Donetsk, Lugansk, and Mariupol. In addition, the funds will cover temporary housing costs for Jewish families who fled the unrest in eastern Ukraine. The Fellowship will also increase the discretionary fund it provides 23 rabbis throughout Ukraine so they can help members of their communities who now find themselves alone and in increasingly dangerous situations.