It started in November with peaceful protests against government actions to strengthen political ties with Russia instead of the European Union. It snowballed over the next few months into violent confrontations between police and protestors, resulting in dozens dead, hundreds injured, a fugitive ex-President, and scenes of destruction that have gripped the world. Now Russia has injected itself into the situation. And it’s not over.
Although the estimated 300,000 Jewish residents in the capital city of Kiev and throughout Ukraine had not originally been outright targets of violence, it has touched them like everyone else. Some Jews in Kiev live close to Independence Square, site of protest encampments and some of February’s deadliest clashes, and are afraid to leave their houses. On Feb. 23, the Giymat Rosa Synagogue in Zaporizhia, 250 miles southeast of Kiev, was firebombed. Five days later, swastikas and "Death to the Jews" were painted on a synagogue in Ukraine's Crimea region.
There are rapidly growing concerns about deepening divisions in the country, the rise of the radical right, and the impact of Russia's intervention.
In repsonse to the crisis, JUF has made available $110,000 in emergency funds to our agencies on the ground -- the American Jewish Loint Distribution Committee (JDC), the Jewish Agency for Israel and World ORT. This is over and above its significant ongoing support.
Since those agencies have supported Jewish life and organizations in Ukraine for decades, they are able to step up when the need for help intensified.
- JDC has activated its emergency response network to ensure continued home deliveries of food, medicine, heating and cooking fuel, and sustained life-saving care at home for the elderly. JDC has increased security at select Jewish communal institutions and Hesed social welfare centers. For updates, please visit JDC’s Ukraine page .
- The Jewish Agency has tapped its Emergency Assistance Fund, started in 2012, to bolster security at Ukraine’s many Jewish institutions, including synagogues, yeshivas and community centers. For updates, please visit the Jewish Agency’s website .
- World ORT has launched a campaign to raise $200,000 to fund increased security at four of its schools in Ukraine. Each school has several hundred students, many of whom travel to class through now-dangerous areas; the father of a student at the Chernovtsy school was killed during clashes in Kiev on February 20. Plans include hiring additional security guards and installing closed-circuit TV and alarm systems on school grounds. For more information on World ORT’s Ukraine programs and needs, please read ORT’s Ukraine prospectus and school security plan .
- Additionally, NCSJ is sending out frequent communication briefs informed by various governmental, non-governmental, and Jewish communal sources. To receive updates, please visit NCSJ’s website .
These efforts, and so many more, are being funded by JUF dollars. Donate to the 2014 JUF Annual Campaign now to ensure we can continue to help Jews around the world during times of crisis.