Ahead of the Jewish New Year and more than 18 months since the conflict in Ukraine began, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is providing thousands of the most impoverished Jews in the country with food aid packages containing traditional holiday items, such as apples and honey. These packages are critically needed as unemployment and displacement continue, upending lives and livelihoods throughout Ukraine. Additionally, hundreds of the neediest Jews across the former Soviet Union will also receive food aid packages for the holidays. These efforts are supported by JDC’s partnerships with the Jewish Federations of North America and the Claims Conference, and in a special initiative, the majority of food sets in Ukraine are generously provided in partnership with the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.
JDC is also releasing a special holiday supplement highlighting often overlooked issues of global Jewish needs, urging the Jewish public to incorporate discussion of these issues into their holiday observance. The supplement, which is available here, offers a reflection on the traditional Shehecheyanu prayer and includes questions prompting discussions about responsibility to fellow Jews living in poverty; Israel’s most vulnerable; building Jewish identity for the next generation; and people facing natural disasters and development crises worldwide. With an eye to the ongoing crisis and emerging needs in Ukraine, the supplement also highlights the voice of a Holocaust survivor aided by JDC and the Claims Conference.
“As we approach Rosh Hashanah, let us remember that the essence of the holiday lies not only in prayer and reflection but also in our duty to extend a helping hand to those in need,” said JDC CEO Ariel Zwang. “As we pray for sweetness and peace in the New Year, it is important that our compassion and assistance to those in need flow abundantly. From besieged Jewish communities in Ukraine, to young Jews embracing their Jewish identities in new and exciting ways, we’re proud our food packages and hundreds of festive events will ensure they can fully embrace the holiday and affirm Jewish life for generations to come.”
Amidst continuing challenges in crisis-wracked Ukraine, JDC will hold scores of Jewish New Year events, both online and in-person, and local Jewish community volunteers will deliver food packages and lead programs bringing the holiday to needy and homebound elderly, displaced, and newly poor. In Kyiv, JDC’s JCC Halom will hold more than a dozen holiday activities for community members of all ages. In Kharkiv, Sumy, and Poltava, Jewish families can participate in art and culinary classes, festive performances, holiday liturgy classes, and special educational events on Rosh Hashanah traditions and history.
Mykolayiv’s elderly Jews will have the opportunity to tune into the virtual tour of “Rosh Hashanah in Fine Arts”, while in Odesa, participants of Active Jewish Teens (AJT), JDC’s youth network which is part of the BBYO global movement, will partake in a special Rosh Hashanah celebration in the Black Sea port city.
In neighboring Moldova, Jewish communities in Chişinău, Kishinev, Beltsy, Kahul, and Orhei will have access to art exhibitions, baking classes, theatrical performances, and history lectures. Meanwhile, across Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, Jewish community members will celebrate the holidays with art classes tailored for children, teens, and families, and special in-person and virtual social opportunities for elderly community members. In the more than 13 European countries where Ukrainian Jewish refugees are still reliant on local Jewish community support, they will be participating in community-wide events as part of efforts to integrate them in local Jewish life.
From Warsaw to Mumbai, Moscow to Casablanca, JDC is hosting virtual and in-person holiday events and ensuring the neediest community members can celebrate the New Year with dignity and joy. Activities in all locations include art and culture workshops, history lectures, live music performances, culinary classes, and traditional holiday meals and rituals.