Peanut Proud donated 35,000 jars of peanut butter to the people of Ukraine through JRNU partner World of Giving. This essential food item arrived in the nick of time, as Ukrainians across the country are having to choose between heat and nourishment. We are distributing the jars to tens of thousands of men, women and children throughout Ukraine who are grateful for the support and are glad to know they are not forgotten.
Happy Thanksgiving! We wish everyone a wonderful day with friends and/or family, sharing gratitude for all that is good in our lives! We know that like us, you are remembering the people of Ukraine who are suffering mightily under conditions that are worsening by the minute. The lack of power and communication combined with frigid cold has imperiled thousands of lives. From all across the country we continue to receive distressing reports from our leaders, staff and volunteers: in Kyiv they are being told to evacuate as the outages are expected to continue for 36 hours, and in Dnipro elderly people are being moved into the community center so they don't freeze to death. We are working around the clock going door to door to conduct wellness checks, and distributing aid and providing assistance everywhere possible. The generators we have delivered are the only source of heat and power in many locations, and we are doing everything possible to secure more equipment and supplies including food, portable stoves, and warm clothing. We are so grateful to all of our partners and supporters who make it possible for us to help the Jews of Ukraine. We are grateful too, for all of your thoughts and prayers today and everyday.
The residents of Kherson have been struggling for weeks, with no access to water or power. Today JRNU delivered 20 tons of food and life saving supplies; not a moment too soon, as most of the country is in the cold and dark.
Yesterday, chief rabbis from Jewish communities across Ukraine and JRNU leaders, were hosted by philanthropist George Rohr, President of NCH Capital, Inc., for a meeting with representatives from the United Jewish Appeal Federation of New York, including Chief Executive Officer Eric Goldstein. The rabbis shared first hand experiences from the ongoing crises in Ukraine; Rabbi David Eliezrie, Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency provided valuable context. Throughout the war, UJA and Mr. Rohr have been incredible partners of JRNU, funding food and supplies along with holiday packages and much more. Without the support of generous partners like these, tens of thousands of people in Ukraine would be hungry and now, cold.
In recently liberated Kherson, the damage to the infrastructure is so severe that people are forced to collect rain water to drink and bathe. Fearing the population will not be able to survive the winter without regular access to power and water, the Ukrainian Government is evacuating residents to other, less dangerous parts of the country. While the government is offering transportation, accommodation and medical care, JRNU is welcoming all displaced people into community centers around the country and providing food, warm clothing and much needed support of all kinds.
JRNU received a third shipment of essential medication and medical supplies from our partner Americares. The shipment arrived to a dark warehouse. Like much of the country, there was no power and no mobile phone service. The residents of Odessa, have been without power for more than 30 hours, and counting. Temperature: 35 degrees Fahrenheit at night, 49 during the day.
We are grateful to our many partners around the country who are hosting coat drives for the people of Ukraine! Schools and synagogues from Washington State to New York have graciously offered to coordinate Bar and Bat Mitzvah projects, Chesed committee initiatives and school-wide campaigns. Some are collecting new clothing and winter accessory items while others are making purchases from our Amazon Wish List. World of Giving Charitable Organization in New York is collecting the items at their warehouse and will ship them to us along with food and other humanitarian aid they are providing for us. With the cold setting in and much of Ukraine without power, these items are needed now more than ever to ensure people survive the winter!
Please lend your support by purchasing a coat or hat, long pants or a a blanket, from our Amazon wish list; or feel free to choose an item of your liking--anything warm will be very much appreciated!
Meet the Chepiga family (pictured here) from the Donetsk region. They moved to the city of Kropivnitsky, in May, when it became too dangerous to stay in their home. They asked one of their neighbors to care for their farm animals while they were away. A week later the neighbor was killed and the animals eventually died. In June, the Chepiga's were welcomed into one of JRNU’s community centers that had been converted into temporary housing. Their hopes of one day returning home were dashed when they received news that their house was destroyed and belongings stolen by looters. They are grateful for the support from JRNU that has sustained them during this difficult time.
The city of Mykolaiv (Nikolaev), located in Southern Ukraine on the Southern Bug River, is a major shipbuilding center of Ukraine due to its proximity to the Black Sea.
Nikolaev has a rich history of Jews dating back to the 19th century when Jews were banned from living east of the Dnieper River. By the end of the 19th century, the city was home to 20,000 Jews, 14 synagogues, and 15 Jewish schools. It is also the birthplace of the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson.
Today the people of Nikolaev are struggling to access clean water after missiles ruptured two pipelines that supplied water to the city. It is not possible to restore pipelines while the war is ongoing. JRNU staff and volunteers are digging a well to provide a ready source of water, eliminating the need for people to travel long distances for this critical resource needed to survive.
We are grateful for support from Chabad UK, the Orthodox Union, the United Synagogue, Jewish Futures and JGift for launching a winter campaign on behalf of the people of Ukraine. The items they are collecting, including sleeping bags, mobile chargers, thermoses, winter clothes and more, are very much needed by the 35,000 people we are supporting, in communities around the country. All donations are most welcome! Together we can ensure no one is left behind.
Check out Ethan's blog for live updates from Ukraine! After raising thousands of dollars for JRNU, Ethan travelled to Berlin and to Odessa to see first hand the critical humanitarian work we are doing. Ethan Gross, JD, is CEO of Globe Midwest Adjusters International, the largest public adjusting firm in the Midwest and an active member of the Detroit Jewish Community.
Leaders from North America, Europe and Israel are gathered to explore the complex issues facing Jewish communities. Rabbi Mendel Moskovitz of JRNU provided detailed up to date information about the situation in Ukraine and the critical work we are doing to support the tens of thousands of Jews who remain there, particularly as we prepare for the harsh winter. Rabbi Moskovitz and leaders from several other organizations providing humanitarian aid in Ukraine emphasized the unprecedented degree of collaboration among the agencies and the need to continue to work together in the future.
Rabbi Moskovitz thanked JFNA for their ongoing significant financial support for our work, on behalf of JRNU and all the Jewish communities of Ukraine.
JRNU sustains more than 1,000 people with hot nutritious meals. Many of the individuals are elderly, or suffer with health issues or disabilities. These meals are part of our comprehensive food program that includes grocery store vouchers and food packages. JRNU volunteers deliver meals and packages to people who are unable to leave their homes, and seek out those who are unable to find assistance on their own.
We currently operate 15 different soup kitchens throughout Ukraine. As people evacuate from more dangerous areas into safer parts of the country, they are provided food and other support from JRNU at our many community centers and other distribution sites.
Our staff and volunteers continue to work around the clock to ensure that no one is left behind!
Recently JRNU has been busy helping people celebrate the High Holidays. We also continue to provide humanitarian support to all those in need, like Grigoriy, 93 years old and suffering from several medical conditions. His medications cost more than he or his daughters can afford. Over the last several months, Grigoriy’s two daughters have lost a substantial portion of their income, making it very difficult to support their father. Thankfully, JRNU has been able to provide Grigoriy with the medication and other support he needs.
With your help, we can ensure that no one is left behind!
Vladimir Alexandrovich, 85, and his wife Nonna Leonidovna, 80, were evacuated in March when the war arrived in Kharkov. Along with their children and grandson, the couple moved to Kropyvnytskyi temporarily. Sadly, the elderly couple hoped that their time in Kropyvnytskyi would be temporary. Sadly, both their son’s house and grandson’s apartment were destroyed, and there is no place to which they can return. JRNU and the Jewish community in Kropyvnytskyi found the family temporary housing and is providing food and other support.
Unfortunately, there are thousands of families like Vladimir, Nonna and their children, and we are helping as many as possible, with continued support from our generous partners and donors. Together we make a difference and ensure no one is left behind.
Throughout Ukraine, communities are struggling with reduced power or no power at all. Crews are working around the clock to restore power and shore up the power sources, but the situation is challenging for everyone, as winter weather has already set in. The government has asked all citizens to reduce power consumption as shown in the picture above.
In addition to our humanitarian aid of food and medicine, JRNU is supplying people with warm clothes, blankets, utility vouchers and more.
The City of Zaparozhye, on the banks of the Dnipro River in Southeast Ukraine, is known for its nuclear power stations, industrial facilities, and advanced transportation systems. For the past 27 years, Rabbi Erentrau has established and maintained an active Jewish community supported by a shul/community center, school, soup kitchen, and mikvah. Presently, more than 700 people, Jews and non-Jews alike, are living in the center, and relying on JRNU for food, medicine and more. During the holidays, Rabbi Erentrau coordinated production of kosher honey and prepared thousands of very special packages for Rosh Hashanah and Sukkot.
Sadly, this is not the first time that war has touched the people of Zaparozhye. Nearly 80% of the Jewish population (that numbered 30,000) was killed during World War II. Today, the people are struggling to prepare for winter with often disrupted power supplies and rising costs. Rabbi Erentrau and JRNU are a lifeline for the community, with friendship and fellowship as well as shelter and basic necessities.
JRNU is bringing much needed joy to the Jews of Ukraine, to celebrate Simchat Torah. Special flags were made in the country in recent days and distributed to thousands of children. Tonight everyone will dance with the festive flags and Torah books.
The upcoming holiday of Shemini Atzeret / Simchat Torah will be joyous inside synagogues all across Ukraine, with singing and dancing, and the traditional “hakafot” to celebrate the completion and beginning of the annual Torah reading cycle. For many individuals and families in Ukraine, the joy of coming together and celebrating with their community members is more important than ever, as their days are filled with fear and uncertainty. Just this week more than 80 rockets landed in Ukraine, causing severe damage in Kyiv, as well as Dnipro, Kharkov, Zhitomjer, Khmelnytskyi, Vinnytsia and Lviv. Miraculously, families survived devastating blasts that destroyed apartment buildings such as the one pictured, in Zaporizhia.
Thirty percent of the country is without electrical power and many lack water as well. Winter has arrived and people have been advised to don warm clothing and stock up on blankets as power is not expected to return anytime soon. JRNU staff and volunteers accompanied the Chabad rabbis going door to door in each community, checking on the residents, providing assistance where needed. Sukkot services were held at every shul, giving people a brief respite from the frightening chaos they have endured, and a little sense of normalcy. We continue to provide food, medicine, housing and more to the people of Ukraine.
We wish everyone a joyous holiday with friends and family, and ask that we continue to remember those who are suffering. We all look forward to better days ahead.
This week the war intensified significantly, worsening conditions for the Ukrainian people. Our support is more critical than ever: food, medication, housing and more. Some individuals are particularly vulnerable during this time, including the elderly, the disabled, and those living alone, like Boris, pictured below.
Boris, 65, has various disabilities that cause him to be wheelchair bound. With no children or other relatives to take care of him; Boris is dependent on JRNU for critical medical and mental health support.
Thanks to many brave and dedicated Chabad rabbis, JRNU staff and volunteers, tens of thousands of Jews throughout Ukraine were able to celebrate with prayers and rituals, despite the very difficult times.
As we look forward to celebrating Sukkot, the festival of harvest gathering, we are mindful of the thousands of people in Ukraine who have lost their homes and belongings and have little to gather. Many people are struggling to keep warm in apartments with damaged windows and limited hot water.
Working with our network of more than 150 rabbis throughout Ukraine, we are able to spread some joy to the Jewish communities. In addition to the holiday packages for Rosh Hashanah, with honey, cookies and cakes, calendars and coloring books, we distributed thousands of beautiful packages for Sukkot, with a Lulav, Etrog, Hadasim and Aravot. At the shuls and community centers, the rabbis are creating a festive environment, despite the challenging circumstances, inviting people to gather for prayer and observance of traditional rituals.
JRNU is able to support the Jews of Ukraine during these difficult times thanks to you! We all are grateful for the generous support and fellowship from people around the world continuing to remember those in need. And we appreciate all our friends and families with whom we share this most holy and meaningful time of year.
After rockets landed in the Lyapin family’s home town of Kramatorsk and damaged their only car, they immediately fled, heading west. Upon their arrival in Dnipro, JRNU staff repaired the front and rear windows of the car, and sent the Lyapins on their way. Between the lack of side windows, fuel issues, and severe cold, the Lyapins needed to make frequent stops.
During a stop in Kropyvntsky, Natalya, 68 years old, broke her hip while trying to get out of the car. The family was forced to remain in Kropyvntsky while she underwent surgery and rehabilitation. During medical testing, they discovered that Natalya has cancer and may need additional treatment right away. Sadly, Natalya’s daughter, Svetlana, underwent cancer treatment just two years earlier.
The Lyapin family was embraced by the Jewish community of Kropyvntsky. JRNU is taking care of their daily needs: their rent is being paid, a monthly voucher for food and other items is provided, and medication will be supplied as needed. Additionally, arrangements were made for Svetlana’s seven-year-old daughter Tina to attend a Jewish camp with other children.
JRNU continues to give essential aid and support to the Lyapin family during these difficult times.
Yom Kippur, the most holy of Jewish holidays, has special meaning to the Jews of Ukraine this year. The tradition of wishing others “a good final sealing” references the hope that they will be inscribed in the "Book of Life” for the coming year. These words resonate with millions of people for whom life has become even more precious; our brothers and sisters have endured sacrifices and suffering, directly and amongst those they love.
Yom Kippur provides an opportunity for us all to consider our deeds, good and bad; we make amends for our wrongs and recommit ourselves to doing good. The outpouring of "good" from around the world over the past 8 months has been a lifeline for millions of people. No more so than for the tens of thousands of Jews and others supported by the Jewish Relief Network Ukraine, made possible by our donors, our staff, our volunteers, our leaders and our communities. Your good deeds do not go unrecognized; our gratitude knows no bounds.
We wish everyone a meaningful holiday, an easy fast, and a New Year filled with peace and happiness.
As the new year begins, the people of Ukraine are facing new challenges on top of the existing difficult situation. The cold has started to set in and heating systems may not be turned on until multiple consecutive days of extreme cold have been reached. Many people's homes are uncomfortable, and even dangerous for the elderly and infirm. Heating costs are skyrocketing, warm blankets and heaters are difficult to come by, and people are very scared.
In Dnipro, an entire family died when their house was bombed, in the center of the city; 100 buses were destroyed in another bombing.
In Zaporizhzhya, civilian cars and volunteer buses were destroyed even as people were trying to provide humanitarian aid to others or trying to flee the “grey” zone to safety.
JRNU continues to be a source of support and aid for the people of Ukraine; they need our help now as much as ever.
Meet Vladimir, originally from Mariupol and a graduate of the Jewish University in Odessa. At 28 he was already a legal consultant. When the war broke out, several of Vladimir's family members died in the shellings in Mariupol. He lost contact with other members of his family and he lost his job. The stress was overwhelming. Thankfully, Vladimir has found a new part time job, but he continues to suffer from the events of the recent past and requires daily medication. JRNU has been a critical source of support for Vladimir, assisting him with costly prescriptions and more.
Sadly, thousands of other individuals like Vladimir need our help. Please donate today to ensure no one is left behind.
On behalf of Jewish Relief Network Ukraine--our staff, volunteers, rabbis and rebbetzins, I wish you all a very happy New Year. As we say in Hebrew, L'Shana Tova. These next few weeks have very special meaning for Jews all around the world, but no more so than our brothers and sisters in Ukraine who continue to endure grave challenges to their survival, each and every day. I extend my deepest gratitude to all of our partner organizations, and to each and every one of our donors. Every gift, no matter how big or how small, helps a person in Ukraine. They are grateful and we are grateful, for the compassion and generosity of people around the world who have responded to the cries for help.
With each day and each week that the situation in Ukraine continues, more people come to us for food, medicine, housing, medical care and other needs. We are continuing to ready schools for in person learning and we are preparing for winter. We have been supporting people in Ukraine long before the first shots rang out and we will be there long after the last soldier retreats. We are there for each and every individual who comes to us for help, and we seek out those who are unable to come on their own. With your help we will ensure no one is left behind.
Please join me in praying for peace throughout the world, and for a much better year for the people of Ukraine. We pray for their safety and good health, and for the opportunity to rebuild their homes and communities and welcome back those who were forced to leave.
I wish each and every one of you a year of happiness and prosperity. Shlomi Peles, Executive Director
Our partner organization, Americares, a health-focused relief and development organization that responds to crises all around the world, has come through for the people of Ukraine for a second time in just a few months.
As the situation inside Ukraine worsens, partners like Americares allow JRNU to continue to provide life saving support to people in 35 communities around the country. The medicine and medical supplies will directly impact the lives of thousands of men, women, and children who rely on JRNU for support, as well as mony other individuals throughout the country.
Thank you Americares!
Remember the Jews of Ukraine! Donate a holiday package today!
As we are busy preparing for High Holiday celebrations with our family and loved ones, JRNU has been preparing thousands of holiday packages for the Jews of Ukraine. Rosh Hashana gift boxes with honey cake, honey, a jewish calendar, grape juice, honey cookies, a children's book and a holiday handbook; and beautifully wrapped Sukkot packages from Israel with a Lulav, Etrog, Hadasim and Aravot . These very special deliveries will allow families to celebrate this most holy time of the year, even as they endure enormous hardship. Many Ukraine Jews are among the millions of displaced persons, living in temporary housing with no source of income and no way to provide for their daily needs. We continue to provide food, medicine, housing and more to 30,000 Ukrainains each month.
These wonderful gift packages will allow our brothers and sisters to share in the traditions of our forefathers. With your help we can give thousands of suffering Jews some joy and hope for better days to come.
Please buy a package for a family in Ukraine and make their holiday a special: $60 buys a Rosh Hashanah box and $45 buys a Sukkot package.
Last week, the Executive Director of JRNU, Shlomi Peles, along with Rabbi Moshe Moskowitz – Chief Rabbi of Kharkiv, Rabbi Nachum Erntroy – Chief Rabbi of Zaparozehe, and Rabbi Mordechai Lavanhartz – from Kyiv, welcomed the Minister of the Diaspora, Mr. Nachman Shay, for a visit to Kfar Chabad.
Minister Shay's visit began in the village’s etrog orchard where he was received by the Chasidic farmer Elazar Garlick who told him about the history of the orchard that provides thousands of beautiful etrogs every year. From there, Minister Shai continued to the village’s beehives, where he was received by the Schneerson family. The minister was shown the honey production process in the factory.
At the heart of the Diaspora Minister’s tour was a visit to “770” house – a replica of the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s house in Brooklyn, where the minister donned tefillin and offered a prayer. Rabbi Nachum Erntroy – Chief Rabbi of Zaparozehe, sounded the shofar.
The visit concluded with Rabbi Peles awarding a “Token of Salvation” to the Minister of the Diaspora, and all the rabbis expressing their gratitude for Minister Shay's ongoing support of the Jewish communities in Ukraine.
The war is taking an even heavier toll on the people of Ukraine than many realized.
The stress is overwhelming, evidenced by the skyrocketing sales of sedatives and antidepressants. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Ukrainians are now the most depressed people in the world, with sales of antidepressants up 50% since the war began; if several million Ukrainians had not left the country, the figure would be 70%!
Additionally, millions of children are suffering mental health impacts and will continue to feel the effects into the future. The demand for basic needs continues to increase: food, medication, hygiene items, and other essentials, like towels, blankets, eating utensils and more.
Over the past month, JRNU’s medical program accepted applications from individuals in 15 cities, and in the days ahead more than 1,650 people will receive needed medications.
Fortunately, the Nova Poshta mail/courier services has recognized us as a national humanitarian aid organization and our supplies are delivered free of charge, allowing us to reach even more people in need.
Gleb is 6 years old. He and his family live in Uman. Until February 24, they lived in Kharkov, where Gleb went to kindergarten. The war turned his life upside down, causing his family to flee the city with nothing but Gleb’s favorite toy!
The family moved several times over the summer and hoped to return to Kharkov in August so Gleb could attend first grade, along with all his friends. Sadly, that wasn’t possible as the city continues to be under attack daily. JRNU has tried to help Gleb and his family make the most of a difficult situation, providing him with a new backpack he takes to school, filled with all types of school supplies and even toys. Gleb keeps his pack close by at all times, in case his family has to flee again.
Rabbi Shneur Silberberg and Ethan Gross, CEO of Globe Midwest Adjusters International established the Sarah and Morris Tugman Bais Chabad Torah Center High Holiday Mitzvah Project to raise money for the Odessa Orphanage. In the first days of the war, fearing for the safety of the more than 100 children, Rabbi Avraham Wolff and his wife, Chaya, evacuated the entire orphanage to Berlin. It was a long and arduous journey, but with the support of Chabad Shluchim along the way, and funding from JRNU, the German Government and generous donors, the orphanage has relocated just outside Berlin. The monthly expenses to feed the children and provide for their education and other needs are significant, this campaign is a great help!
Just a few days after launching the campaign, the wonderful members of BCTC are well on their way to reaching their goal of $18,000. The children of the orphanage along with members of their community who have relocated with them, and the JRNU organization, are grateful to Rabbi Silberberg and Mr. Gross and the entire BCTC community.
The children expressed their gratitude in their own words in the video here.
"In several population centres [in Ukraine], there are no electrical or water supplies. Fires have broken out where these strikes occurred and emergency crews ... are containing the blazes."--Reuters News, 9/12/2002 The people in Ukraine are suffering and need our help more than ever! Jewish Relief Network is boots on the ground providing food, shelter, medicine and more to tens of thousands of Ukrainians each and every day. We were there before the first rocket hit and we will be there after the war ends. With your help we can continue to ensure no one is left behind.
Every week, the caring women of the Mykolaiv Jewish community prepare delicious challahs. They are undeterred by constant shelling that causes city residents fear and anxiety. The doors of the synagogue remain open, for those who come to pray, and for those in need of support: food, drinking water, and medicine. The Mykolaiv shul and along staff from JRNU, remains an island of hope for the Jews who know that every Friday, regardless of sirens bombings, freshly baked challah will be provided for their table!
In the city of Mykolayiv, JRNU provides much more than food and necessities. The emotional and spiritual support of staff, volunteers, and community leaders, creates a feeling of security and restores hope. Better days are ahead, and JRNU will be there to support the community in every possible way.
This week JRNU distributed locally sourced medicine to 100 people in the Poltava area of Ukraine. Staff and volunteers purchased medications for each client in accord with his or her need and then coordinated the distribution, through committed individuals like Sheina Andriuschenko, pictured above.
After months of generous hospitality at the Jewish National Fund Nes-Harim campus, JRNU’s ‘Alumim’ Children’s Home and Orphanage of Zhytomyr, Ukraine, is relocating to Chabad’s educational campus in Ashkelon, Southern Israel.
Hundreds of the institution’s refugee children, together with many Zhytomyr community members, that have been staying in Nes-Harim ever since their urgent evacuation from West Ukraine, are currently resettling in the Southern city of Ashkelon. They will integrate into Chabad’s local network of communal and educational institutions and initiatives, headed by Rabbi Mendel Lieberman.
A special welcoming ceremony, attended by dignitaries, community members, and dedicated professional services, welcomed the refugees at the beginning of the new academic year as they arrived. Knesset member, Alexander Kushnir, who joined the event and lives in the city, warmly blessed the new arrivals and spoke about the Israeli commitment to their wellbeing.
“It was a very exciting moment,” says Rabbi Shlomo Wilhelm, the Chief Rabbi of Zhytomyr and West Ukraine. “A hundred children and eighteen families are opening a new page. Some are in dormitories, others have already found apartments and a few are in hotels, yet all feel something new and refreshing is happening – a new home surrounded by loving and caring individuals from the warm Chabad community.”
As the war continues it's easy to forget about the day to day problems of families in Ukraine. For example, Zhenya Lizhnik, a young man from Kamianske who has had dental issues his entire life. For three years he endured various procedures and contraptions including dental bridges to correct issues with his upper jaw and protruding teeth that caused tremendous pain while eating. The treatment was successful, but almost immediately Zhenya began to have serious problems with his wisdom teeth. They were not only very painful but were threatening to undo all the improvements to his jaw and teeth. Accordingly, on August 29th, JRNU arranged for an emergency operation to remove four wisdom teeth, and covered all the costs.
The Lizhnik family has been struggling financially for some time, even more so during the war. They lack sufficient funds for food and necessities; paying for dental treatment and oral surgery was out of the question, even with the real threats to Zhenya's health.
For the Lizhnik family and thousands of others, JRNU is there to provide support of all kinds. We have been a part of the communities long before the war, working with people to understand and address their many needs; we will be there long after the war ends.
Today is the first day of school in Ukraine. Eighteen hundred Jewish children return to school after a summer sheltering in bunkers and taking refuge in other towns to which they have fled.
Many students come from underprivileged backgrounds, and school serves as a critical support system for them and their families. Recognizing the desperate need for these children to return to school, to improve their physical and mental wellbeing, as much as their educational needs, the Chabad rabbis and Jewish Relief Network Ukraine were determined to open the doors of as many schools as possible on September 1st.
The Ukrainian government mandated that all schools have accessible bomb shelters complete with generators, furniture, food and water. JRNU worked hard to disguise the ominous shelters as colorful and welcoming classrooms or play areas to avoid further traumatizing the children. Schools in Kyiv, Odessa, Zhytomyr, Vinitsa, Bila Tserkva, Chernivtsi, Kamianske, Kryvyi Rih, Cherkasy, among others, opened in person, while others are hoping to open soon; the students attend online classes in the meantime.
The eastern portion of Ukraine has been hit the hardest; many cities have been completely destroyed by bombs and shelling, leaving thousands of people with nowhere to live and nowhere to go.
In March, Victoria left her hometown of Slavyansk to protect her kids, Karolina (13) and Georgiy (5), from the dangers and chaos of constant sirens and explosions. The family took only the few things they could pack in a bag and carry with them as they traveled to the Ivano-Frankivsk region; after a brief stay they moved on to Sumy.
In Sumy, friends are helping to provide short term housing, but with no job and no source of income, Victoria is dependent on JRNU for the family's existence.
Jewish Relief Network Ukraine (JRNU) is proud to announce our partnership with RestoringVision, a leading global optical nonprofit that “empowers lives by restoring vision for millions of people in need.” The organization is donating 50,000 pairs of eyeglasses to the people of Ukraine. Our network of more than 150 Chabad rabbis, professional staff and volunteers will ensure these glasses are provided to Ukrainians in need, quickly and efficiently.
We are pleased to join RestoringVision's network of 2,500 NGOs and governments working to create “a world where everyone who needs glasses has them,” and we appreciate their joining our efforts to ensure no one is left behind in Ukraine. As we continue to support more than 30,000 Ukrainians each month with food, medicine, medical care and housing, we are always looking to partner with reputable humanitarian organizations, like RestoringVision, that share our commitment to integrity and transparency.
“RestoringVision is proud to partner with Jewish Relief Network Ukraine to serve refugees of the war on Ukraine with the eyeglasses they need to see clearly, ensuring that they can navigate this crisis with one less significant obstacle in their way. At the onset of the war, Ukrainians fled their homes and sought safety, many leaving so quickly that they took little to no belongings with them, often forgetting their eyeglasses at home. By providing clear vision for those displaced in and around Ukraine, I am proud to share that RestoringVision and partners like Jewish Relief Network are providing critical support for refugees, bringing hope into focus for so many,” said Pelin Munis, Ph.D., Executive Director of RestoringVision.
We remain hopeful that the war will end soon, and people will be able to return to their homes to rebuild their communities and restore their lives. In the meantime, we continue to provide humanitarian relief of all kinds, now including eyeglasses:
“The suffering among the people of Ukraine is immense. Our job to provide support for daily living and maintain hope for the future is made easier by the generous support of organizations such as RestoringVision and others who have not forgotten the people of Ukraine. No donation is too big or too small; the grocery store voucher to feed a family of 4 or the prescription medicine for the elderly shut in can make the difference between life and death. We hope that others will be inspired by, and follow the lead of RestoringVision and support the work of JRNU to save lives every day,” said Judi Garrett, Chief Operating Officer of Jewish Relief Network Ukraine.
World Humanitarian Day is a global celebration of people helping people. It is intended to raise public awareness of humanitarian assistance worldwide and shine a light on the thousands of volunteers, professionals and crisis-affected people who deliver urgent health care, shelter, food, protection, water and much more.
JRNU is blessed to have a team of coordinators who give of themselves each and every day to help the people of Ukraine--no one more than Alisa Rostotseva. Alisa is a program coordinator who works in Vinnytsia, after she and her family fled their hometown of Mariupol.
Her smiling face and cheerful attitude belie the incredible challenges she has endured. Alisa and her husband planned to evacuate Mariupol with her in-laws and the grandmother. Tragically, before they could flee, Alisa’s mother was killed in one of the bombings. The family had no alternative but to bury her in the yard behind their apartment building. Then, while en route to Vinnytsia, while the family was staying in Zaporizhzhia, Alisa’s father in law had a stroke and died.
Once in Vinnytsia, Alisa and her family were embraced by the Jewish community and JRNU staff who immediately set about helping the family rebuild their lives. Alisa found refuge in her work; helping other people is therapy for the losses she has endured. She takes special care of the 170 families who evacuated from the eastern regions of Ukraine along with the entire community she serves. Alisa brightens the lives of thousands of people everyday as she brings them aid and hope, with her smiling face and positive attitude, despite her pain and she continues to grieve for the loved ones she lost.
Winter promises to bring a host of new problems for the people of Ukraine. The residents of Kyiv and Lviv have been asked by their respective mayors to have plenty of warm clothes and electric heaters available. There are grave concerns about the electricity supply, particularly in the South of Ukraine due to damage to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant. Sadly, people's ability to purchase goods and services of all types are lessened each day as the rate of unemployment increases and savings are depleted. The number of people in need of assistance is increasing. Please donate money for warm blankets, electric heaters, and vouchers for heating bills.
Sveta, Dima, and Sabina are part of a large family living in a remote village in Vinnytsia. The family cannot leave their small village due to their father’s spinal disease which has worsened since the war began. The older children are helping to care for their 6 month old baby sister, Sabina.
JRNU is providing this family with the desperately needed food and medicine. Thousands of other families across Ukraine also need help. Please consider sponsoring a family--your donation will have a direct impact on the people that need it most.
The Agudath Achim congregation of Bradley Beach, NJ, is sponsoring three families in Ukraine. Their generous donations will ensure the Ivashchenko family, the Grinchenko family, and the Chernaya family have food, medicine, and other necessities.
The Ivashchenko Family from Mariupol, Ukraine
“We have two children, Anya, 7 years old and Maxim, 12 years old. Before the war, as it turned out, we had a wonderful life. The children had many friends, were very sociable, went to school and attended Jfuture, Enerjew and SmartJ classes. But one day our life completely changed. We lost everything: our house, friends and relatives, jobs and our beloved city. I still don’t have any news from my brother in Mariupol and I cry everyday. Fortunately, we evacuated and survived. Now we live in Dnipro in a hostel. After all, we are learning to live again.”
The parents lost their jobs, their home and all of their belongings. They are in need of support to rebuild their lives.
The Grinchenko Family from Zhytomyr, Ukraine
Svetlana is a single mother who was raising her two boys, Bogden (15) and Nazar (11) in Zhytomyr. They were forced to evacuate, leaving everything they had behind in Ukraine. They currently live in Haifa, Israel, with relatives, but need to rent their own apartment. The family is in desperate need of support to begin their new life.
Natalia and Mikhail Chernaya from Vinnytsia, Ukraine
Natalia is an English teacher and works at a local Jewish school to provide for her son. Mikhail is struggling with the effects of the war and need psychiatric care. These issues have caused him to lag behind his peers in school, and he need tutoring. The war has crippled the family’s ﬁnancial situation and they are in need of support for food, medication and psychological care.
There are thousands of families just like these who desperately need help, please contact us to sponsor a family!
In the early days of the war, under the leadership of Rabbi Sholmo and Rebbetzin Rachel Wilhelm, 100 children of the Alumim Orphanage in Zhytomyr were evacuated to Israel, in a harrowing journey through the Carpathian Mountains and Rumania. They have been residing in Israel along with other members of their community. Last week they were treated to a special experience when they visited the ancient city of Hebron. The kids enjoyed a guided tour, in Russian, of all Hebron’s historic sites, including the Cave of the Patriarchs, the tomb of the famous Rebbitzin Menucha Rachel, Beit Hadassah, and the local Jewish museum. There, they prayed for global peace and redemption.
“It was a very exciting, interesting, and especially an emotional experience for all of us,” says Rabbi Shlomo Wilhelm, the Chief Rabbi of Zhytomyr and Western Ukraine. “For the children to see the place where it all started with their own eyes –was a touching and everlasting experience. The local Jewish community was very welcoming, and made sure the children enjoyed every moment.”
The situation in cities and villages across the country is dire. Many folks who previously supported their communities are now seeking help themselves, as they have lost their source of income and have depleted their savings.
Prices for all types of products in Ukraine have increased exponentially. People have no more savings and are unable to find work. Many people will be unable to pay for heating and other utilities in the harsh winter months, right around the corner.
Many homes are damaged and need repairs to doors, windows, and communication systems.
The staff and volunteers of JRNU have distributed nearly 600 tons of food across Ukraine, providing packages to 25,000 people.
In Chernihiv, one of the cities that was severely bombed early in the war, repairs are being made to homes: hot water heaters are being installed and window repairs are being scheduled.
170 people from Donetsk and Luhansk, current hotspots in the war, are getting much needed aid, as are 100 people in Mariupol and 300 people in Kherson (both occupied cities).
Medication distribution is underway in the cities of Sumy, Kryvyi Rih, Uman, Vinnytsia, Zhytomyr, and Pervomaisk.
We are making a difference each and every day, doing what we can to ensure no one is left behind. Please help!
Kirill's father, a Ukrainian soldier, is missing.
Kirill is a 4-year-old boy from Mariupol. His mother is a doctor and his father serves in the army. At the outset of the war, mother and child remained in their home, but by the end of March they had to flee, as their beautiful city had become exceedingly dangerous and unlivable. They managed to reach the city of Dnipro, surviving many challenges along the way. Kirill and his mother lost track of father for some time, but eventually learned that he had been captured along with others from the Azov Batallion. On July 29, 2022, the Elenovka prison was bombed where prisoners of war were held, including those from Azov--no word about father.
For the past few weeks, Kirill's mother has been looking for work; now she is also looking for her husband. Kirill often stays with his grandparents who fled Mariupol as well. The boy has a variety of challenges, including a speech impediment, poor vision and other health issues that arose from his premature birth. Desperate and exhausted, the mother reached out to the Jewish Relief Network Ukraine seeking help for her son. Thanks to cooperation form the Jewish Medical Center Dnipro, Kirill was examined by several specialists, one of whom found a cyst of the brain, part of the reason for his poor vision. The youngster is under constant monitoring by specialists in Dnipro, and he is participating In several JRNU programs. Sadly, there is no news of Kirill's father, but mother and son are grateful for the ongoing support from the caring staff of JRNU.
The staff of JRNU, Chabad and local rabbis have been running summer camps for Jewish children across Ukraine for over 30 years, and this year was no exception. While the challenges were many and number of participants was less, it was more critical than ever to provide kids an opportunity for fun, relaxation and a bit of learning.
“There are non-stop sirens, the atmosphere of tension, but this camp is necessary for children who are going through an unusual time,” says Rabbi Shaul Horowitz, a Chabad emissary who serves as the chief rabbi of the western-central city of Vinnytsia.
“This is a real life-saver, and especially this year we’ve made tremendous efforts to hold the summer camp as usual. We’ve been running it for 19 years now. Every year, about a hundred kids come here, and this year, we have 58. Usually, we call on instructors from Chabad families, but this time, we called local instructors, our graduates.”
In the Chernivtsi District, one camp is trying to readjust to the complex situation. “Over the recent months, 200 Jewish children have left us and 700 others came — refugees from all over Ukraine,” said Rabbi Menachem Glitsenshtein. “This time the camp is split between local children and children of refugees.”
In Vinnytsia, the camp usually has 100 kids, and this year that number is 58. Nevertheless, the camps have been an overwhelming success and we look forward to returning to a full-scale operation next year, G-d willing.
Please accept my sincere appreciation and gratitude (and with your help, pass on to the management and all employees of such a wonderful and simply necessary organization for people in need) for the food and medical assistance provided in such a tragic time for our country and all of its citizens. To say that I, who started my life in Kyiv to the sound of sirens during the Nazi raids, and went to the finish line of life to the same sounds of sirens, was shocked by the help-- three boxes now, and before that an expensive cardiovascular drug, is an understatement! Even more than that, the attentiveness, sensitivity and goodwill of the employees, including the delivery driver who, given my age (84), lifted the boxes to the third floor, and categorically refused to accept compensation, was amazing!
Be healthy and happy! Peaceful skies to all of us!
L.M. Bodankin, PhD
Honorary Vice-President of the Chess Federation of Ukraine
International Chess Arbiter
U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Bridget Brink, met with the Chief Rabbi and Shliach of Kyiv, Rabbi Yonatan Markovitch, this week.
“Heartened to hear from Chief Rabbi Markovitch that Ukraine’s Jewish community continues to enjoy full freedom to practice as they please, and I admire the community’s commitment to caring for their neighbors in need,” she wrote after the visit.
Rabbi Markovitch invited the ambassador to the community center. Despite the war and the alarms in Kyiv, the ambassador arrived with a large delegation to see the Jewish community first hand.
With the support of JRNU, the Jewish Community Center and Chabad House work around the clock every day preparing hot food for hundreds of people, distributing food and medicine to more than 3,000 families a month, and providing physical and spiritual support to the Jewish refugees who arrived in Kyiv from various places in Ukraine.
The Community Center in Ivano- Frankivsk, a city in Western Ukraine, serves as a central distribution point for JRNU. From there we provide food to Evelina and hundreds of others who are very much in need. At age 72, Evelina was forced to flee her home in Chernihiv. While the City of Chernihiv is no longer occupied, her home is damaged and the communication system was destroyed. Like the millions of other displaced Ukrainians, including elderly and at-risk children, Evelina has no resources at her disposal and she relies on JRNU for her very existence. We are fortunate to partner with several organizations who share our devotion to the people of Ukraine, and together we ensure no one is left behind.
All across the country, Ukrainians are living in fear, with sirens blaring day and night. Kherson, Melitopol, and Berdiansk are under occupation. In Mariupol, nearly 90% of the houses are completely destroyed. Zaporizhzhia, Mykolayiv, and Dnipro are bombed nearly every day, with significant casualties. In Kharkov, three people were killed at a bus stop, one of them was a 12-year-old child. Due to the difficulties getting goods into the country, prices for basic supplies are skyrocketing. In the areas being bombed most heavily, communication systems are down making it increasingly difficult to coordinate deliveries of food and medicine. Many of the buildings that remain intact lack hot water and have broken windows and doors.
JRNU has staff and volunteers on the ground in all these locations, getting food and supplies into the hands of the people who need it the most. With your support, we can continue to provide these lifesaving services.
Thanks to JRNU, hundreds of residents of Vinnytsia are getting much needed food, as they recover from the recent severe bombing.
Team member Victor Nikolayets shares, “This is the time you can not stand aside. We are to be strong and united. I can not think of anything but our Jewish people being in extreme need and I try to do my best to help”
We continue to provide humanitarian aid all across Ukraine with a particular emphasis on the regions under active attacks (or occupation) where critical supplies are most needed
· Kryvoi Roh
In the areas with the most active hostilities (marked in red on the map) we continue to provide food and other aid, regardless of bombings and other attacks. Nineteen boilers will be installed in Chernihiv to provide the people with hot water; in Berdiansk medication is being provided to 59 people; and in Mariupol (one of the most dangerous regions right now) 100 people received food. In the coming days, we will provide medications to 240 people in Zaporizhzhia, which is frequently bombed and is very unstable.
The Orthodox Union has been an outstanding partner of ours since the first days of the war; their assistance has helped us support more than 30,000 Ukrainian men, women and children.
“This is my hometown Vinnytsia, where I was born and raised, graduated from University across the street, the city where my mom is buried and where my granny, aged 89 lives, 5 minutes from this very place, less than a kilometer...I am devastated."
JRNU operates a center for displaced persons in the city where we continue to house and feed families.
In addition, just yesterday we received a large shipment of food we are distributing to families.
But it's not enough! Please make a gift and share our posts; help us spread the word about the suffering and the opportunities to help!
The situation in Ukraine becomes more dire every day. In the past two weeks alone nearly 100 civilians were killed or seriously injured by bombs in a shopping center in Kremenchuk and apartment buildings in Kyiv and Odessa. People have been forced out of their homes with nowhere to go. According to the UN, the situation of displaced people in Ukraine is the worst in the world.
With your support we are making a difference, saving lives. We just received a large shipment of food in Bila Tserkva and Zakarpattia through our partnership with the Orthodox Union that will help sustain more than 20,000 Ukrainian men, women and children each month.
Our housing centers provide shelter for nearly 1000 individuals, complete with food and programs for children.
We work around the clock to help the Ukrainian people. There is no more worthy cause at this time, and we must ensure no one is left behind.
These kids are enjoying a delicious lunch at the volunteer center of the Jewish community of Vinnytsia. Vinnytsia has become a haven for displaced Ukrainians. Every day volunteers at the community kitchen provide hot meals for children and adults. This support is critical for those who have already suffered so much. Parents can rest easy knowing their children are well nourished.
Baseball has been an American tradition for more than a century, and, as it turns out, also has a rich tradition in Ukraine. More than 20 years ago, Basil Tarasko brought little league to Ukraine, and kids have been hitting and fielding ever since. The Ukraine national team competes in the bi-annual European Baseball Championship. But this year there is no baseball in Ukraine; the fields are empty and the ball parks are silent.This video provides a little history and insight into baseball and the people of Ukraine.
The situation in Ukraine continues to worsen with intense bombings in many regions throughout the country (Kharkiv, Zaporozhye, Mykolayiv, Odessa, Sumy, Kremenchug, Kryvio Roh, and Kyiv), and other cities under occupation including Mariupol, Kherson, Berdiansk. The lives of Ukrainians are getting more difficult as it becomes much more difficult to earn a living. They are under extreme stress, facing critical shortages of food and supplies. According to the United Nations, 50% of Ukrainians (24 million people) are in need of humanitarian aid and protection. We continue to answer the call by supporting displaced persons as well as those who are able to remain in their communities, providing food, clothes, medicine and financial support.
Take the Brakar family, for example, from Mykolayiv, who we recently rescued after their apartment building was bombed. The parents, grandparents and two daughters (pictured on the left) were in need of food, medicine, medical and dental care, psychological counseling due to the trauma, and other financial support. JRNU has been there every step of the way, assisting the family until they are able to find a more stable situation.
In Dnipro, the Jewish Medical Center, under the leadership of Chief Rabbi and Head Shliach Shmuel Kaminezki, received 6 pallets of critical supplies donated by Americares, a health-focused relief and development organization that responds to crises all around the world. The medicine and medical supplies including penicillin, prenatal vitamins, medical test kits and much more will save the lives of thousands of men, women and children in Ukraine. These items, secured by the Jewish Relief Network Ukraine, are needed today more than ever as the situation in cities and towns around Ukraine continues to worsen. The professional staff are on the ground, in the field working around the clock, with the Chabad Rabbis, to provide food, medicine, housing and much more to over 30,000 people each month. This support from Americares, other partner organizations and generous individuals make it all possible.
Chabad.Org Highlights Struggles in Ukraine and Lifesaving Work by JRNU
73% of Jews in Ukraine will have to choose between food and heat. In addition, 97% expect difficulties in heating their homes due to financial and other constraints.
JRNU is procuring industrial and portable generators and providing winter survival kits to 35,000 people.
Organizations like the Jewish Relief Network Ukraine (JRNU) are working to provide support to more than 30,000 people throughout Ukraine, despite the worsening conditions.