Ukrainian chief rabbi journeys to United States seeking increase in humanitarian aid

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 Ukraine’s Chief Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich, center, with his religious colleagues, stands before the Holodomor Memorial to Victims of the Ukrainian Famine-Genocide of 1932-1933 in Washington. Courtesy of U.S.-Ukraine Foundation
Ukraine’s Chief Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich, center, with his religious colleagues, stands before the Holodomor Memorial to Victims of the Ukrainian Famine-Genocide of 1932-1933 in Washington.
Courtesy of U.S.-Ukraine Foundation

Representatives of Ukraine’s religious organizations journeyed to the United States early last week to plead their case for increased humanitarian aid for millions of Ukraine’s citizens.

Ukraine’s Chief Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich, joined by clergy of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations, met with White House officials to discuss the humanitarian crisis in the country, which was thrust into chaos after Russia invaded Crimea in 2014.


“While we are grateful for the assistance provided by the United States government to date, we know that the need is so much greater,” read a letter from the religious organization to President Barack Obama. “Thus, we appeal to you to increase assistance and to activate the full potential of the National Guard State Partnership Program and the Partnership for Peace as instruments for alleviating the humanitarian catastrophe.”

The group requested help delivering medical and humanitarian supplies already allocated to Ukraine. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 5 million Ukrainians are in need of assistance before winter sets in. Approximately 70,200 Jews live in Ukraine, according to figures cited by the Jewish Virtual Library.

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“The help that we may get in paying for transport of containers of humanitarian aid that was collected here to be sent over to Ukraine is very, very symbolic. Money is not the most important thing,” said the American-born Bleich. What it will do, he added, is show the “importance that the United States government places on the humanitarian needs in Ukraine.”

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