Chicago-Kyiv Kehillah Project
The Chicago-Kyiv Kehillah Project was established in December 1999 in cooperation with the United Jewish Communities, it is a subcommittee of JUF's Israel and Overseas Commission. Kyiv is the Ukrainian spelling for the city of Kiev. This community allocates close to $30 million annually overseas, primarily through the Jewish Agency for Israel and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, both of which provide service to the Jewish communities in Ukraine.
Through our annual overseas allocation, JUF provides approximately $5 million in unrestricted support of aliyah, formal and informal Jewish education, and support of the Jewish elderly in the FSU.
JUF continues to allocate funds in support of hunger and social welfare needs of the elderly in the FSU to reduce the disparity between levels of care among elderly (only some elderly are eligible to receive support from restitution funds depending upon where they were during the Holocaust). This year, JUF will designate more than $671,000 to address hunger issues in the Former Soviet Union and will allocate more than $168,000 in support of formal and informal Jewish education programs through the Kyiv Kehillah Project.
Programmatic Highlights – Current Activities
JUF's Bar/Bat Mitzvah Program in Kyiv - For Jewish youngsters around the world, the Bar or Bat Mitzvah is a milestone to be celebrated in style, as they become full-fledged members of the Jewish community – with all of the benefits, responsibilities, and obligations that this privilege entails. For youngsters living in the FSU, however, celebrating this central life-cycle event cannot always be taken for granted. Indeed, while many Jewish communities in the FSU are experiencing an amazing renaissance that could only be imagined a decade ago, there are still insufficient numbers of teachers and inadequate financial resources to reach out to each and every child with the gift of a Jewish education.
The Bar/Bat Mitzvah Project, which has been operating in Kyiv since 2004, is a shining example of what educational milestones can be achieved as one approaches this transformative time in a Jewish child’s life. Two years are spent preparing and teaching the child and his/her parents and/or grandparents. After the culmination of the first year of studies, a festive Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebration is held in the presence of family, friends, and community representatives.
Through this program, the Jewish Agency (an overseas partner of JUF which runs this program) does much more than coach the children to take part in a religious service. Parents are involved in all stages of the program, including lessons, lectures, trips, and of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebration. Moreover, both parents and children are encouraged to continue the learning process: follow-up classes are held throughout the second year.
TZROR - which means bundle in Hebrew, has been operating (and has been supported by JUF's Kyiv Kehillah Project) in Kyiv since 2008. It is a Jewish educational program which was developed by the Jewish Agency. It aims at expanding the scope of the educational continuum in Kyiv to include younger children between the ages of 5 and 11. It is the precursor to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Program. Professional Jewish educators are convinced that the key to an individual's lifelong commitment to the Jewish community and to Israel is often an early entry into a Jewish education framework. TZROR is different from most other programs in that it offers a long-term program which provides Jewish learning experiences as the child matures. The TZROR groups meet every Sunday for 6 hours during the academic year.
Jewish Summer Camping in FSU has the power to strengthen Jewish identity in a profound way. For some, Jewish summer camp is the first time that youngsters connect to their Jewish heritage; for many it is their only connection to the Jewish people. The camp experience offers children and students an intensive and transformative experience during which they learn about the rich heritage of their people, celebrate Shabbat, meet Jewish friends from other communities in their region, and forge strong relationships with Russian and Israeli counselors, who serve as living role models of an involvement with the Jewish People and Israel. The Kyiv Kehillah Project supports summer camp experiences in Kyiv through the Jewish Agency for Israel, Midreshet Yerushalayim (Conservative Movement), and Progressive (Reform) Movement in Kyiv.
More information about Streams (religious pluralism) programming in Kyiv supported by JUF please look here.
JUF brings missions to Kyiv.