I go to sleep these days watching the news about Ukraine and I wake up every morning to hear the latest updates. Many don’t realize the significant Jewish community that calls Ukraine home. Somewhere north of 200,000 Jews reside in the largest country in Europe (that was a question on Jeopardy last week). That Jewish population is four times that of Greater Pittsburgh. The Jewish community is comprised of both young people and seniors. Many of the seniors live on small pensions that can be only $2 a day. As I have learned from our two overseas partner agencies on the ground there, that $2 was difficult before Russia surrounded the country, but now inflation has taken heating prices up by as much as 50% and the cost for food and medicine have risen significantly, as well.
What will happen between Russia and Ukraine is anyone’s guess. We are lucky that our two partner agencies have completed scenario planning to address even the most extreme possibilities. We fund these agencies to provide food, medicine, socialization, Jewish connectivity and for those who desire, a chance to make Aliyah. Because those agencies are well rooted in the country with multiple locations and staffing, I know that we are as prepared as possible for whatever may happen. As donors to the Federation, you provide these agencies the ability to do this critical work and to plan for what may happen. While there may be a need for additional emergency funds in the future, know that your support is making a huge difference today, as the Jewish community throughout Ukraine enters Shabbat not knowing what tomorrow may bring.
Many of our own families can probably trace roots back to “the Ukraine” (as it was called then). Our families were able to hop on a boat or a plane to make it to the United States while many others remained. Perhaps we were lucky our relatives chose to leave. Whatever the reason we are here and they are there, these Jews are part of our extended Jewish family.