My Dear Colleagues,
No doubt we’ve all been riveted by the events unfolding around Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. You may be aware that Ukraine is home to one of the world’s largest Jewish communities with some 200,000 Jews concentrated in the country’s four largest cities and spread across dozens of smaller cities and towns in every corner of the country. A network of Jewish Community Centers (JCCs) grew up in the aftermath of the fall of the Soviet Union, largely under the auspices of one of the world’s great Jewish organizations, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (the JDC—or simply, The Joint), which provides ongoing guidance, coordination and support to these organizations throughout the former Soviet Union. This network of JCCs is also a proud part of our extended movement—connected to us through JCC Global. Over the years, many North American JCCs have established direct ties with individual Ukrainian JCCs via JCC Global’s Amitim Program.
The Jewish world is deeply concerned about our brothers and sisters across Ukraine, who now find themselves in the path or war. Some are Russian speaking, with significant ties to communities and family in Russia, and others have roots among those who survived the Holocaust and contributed to the renewal of Jewish life there in recent decades. We can be confident that JDC, which, for more than a century, has borne responsibility for aiding Jews in such times, is working through its teams on the ground, coordinating with its partners, and will provide every possible support and assistance.
A growing number of you have inquired about how you can help, and I encourage you to do two things:
- Urge those around you to contribute to the emergency fundraising effort of the JDC, a nonpolitical organization that focuses solely on humanitarian aid and building Jewish life. Substantial resources will be required, and contributions can be made directly or via your local Jewish Federation.
- Send notes of support and friendship to our colleagues in Ukraine. Owing to sensitivities around communications in wartime, these notes should be sent to general inboxes at our partner JCCs.
We remain in close contact with JCC Global and our partners at the JDC and will update you as events unfold. In the meanwhile, I know you join me in the hope there will be a quick and peaceful resolution of the conflict. Below, for your information, is an update distributed earlier today by Smadar Bar Akiva, the remarkable head of JCC Global, as well as remarks made today by Yair Lapid, Israel’s Minister of Foreign Affairs; and a statement from Dr. Nachman Shai, Minister for Diaspora Affairs.
Am Yisrael Chai.