By Max Moline
As local tensions rise over the unseating of Ukraine’s president and Russian movements in the Crimea region, the Jewish Federations of North America, along with the National Coalition of Soviet Jewry, is spearheading an effort to send aid to Jews in Ukraine. Also contributing to the Jewish relief effort is Chabad-Lubavitch, in partnership with the Rohr Family Foundation.
Locally, the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington has set up a fund to support Ukrainian Jews that can be accessed at shalomdc.org.
“The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington is working closely with JFNA to monitor the needs of the Jewish population in Ukraine,” said Federation CEO Steven A. Rakitt. “We will be transmitting our fair share of an initial investment of $1 million to ensure that food, fuel, and security needs can be met. We will continue to watch the situation carefully and respond with additional fundraising as needed.”
JFNA has established a Ukraine Assistance Fund to which anyone can donate at jfna.org.
While JFNA is focusing on monetary aid to Jewish communities, NCSJ is working with the media to present an accurate image of the state of Jewish communities in Ukraine.
NCSJ is “trying to clarify what is and isn’t the case with anti-Semitism in Ukraine,” said executive director Mark Levin.
While there have recently been several “troubling anti-Semitic events toward the Jewish community” in Ukraine, Levin stressed the lack of any governmental discrimination. “There’s no noticeable pattern of anti-Semitism in this new government, despite insistence from the Russian government that the new government is fascist and anti-Semitic.”
NCSJ works on behalf of all Jewish communities located in the former Soviet Union, Levin said in a statement posted on the organization’s website. “We need to actively work to strengthen the links among Jewish communities throughout the FSU and also strengthen their links with the organized U.S. Jewish community.”
The role of properly demonstrating the public attitude toward Ukraine’s Jewish population is an important one, said Levin, and the audiences NCSJ is working to inform are not just governments. “We’re trying to educate the community, the media and the U.S. government as to the situation.”
Chabad-Lubavitch opened a Ukraine Jewish Relief Fund accessible through Chabad.org. The Rohr Foundation offered a matching grant of up to $200,000 to the fund, which, according to the Chabad website, is “supporting Jewish Centers in 32 Ukrainian cities.” It will help to pay for increased security and to keep regular Chabad activities on schedule.