(JNS.org) The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), which has been delivering heating fuel, bedding, and clothing to Jewish communities across the former Soviet Union as part of its annual Winter Relief program, is expanding its efforts in Ukraine in response to a harsh winter as well as the country’s ongoing political and economic turmoil.
JDC said Dec. 8 that its staff is providing additional winter supplies from the 32 JDC-supported Hesed social welfare centers in Ukraine, allowing them to reach not only the elderly and the poor, but also displaced Jewish families and Holocaust survivors.
There are currently more than 5,000 JDC clients in eastern Ukraine, and more than 2,000 displaced Jews who need assistance in other parts of the country, the relief organization said. In addition, local currency has significantly devalued, resulting in a 50-80 percent increase in the cost of food and medicine. The Ukrainian government, meanwhile, has enacted energy-saving measures such as planned power outages that can adversely impact the poor and the elderly.
“While winter relief is a lifeline for tens of thousands of Jews in need on any given year, its even more essential in Ukraine where utility prices have soared and the crisis has continued with no end in sight,” Michal Frank, director of JDC’s former Soviet Union department, said in a statement.
“We have proudly stood by the Jews of Ukraine during this period and, together with our invaluable partners, have redoubled our efforts to ensure this winter is imbued with the warmth of Jewish solidarity and mutual care,” he added.
JDC's partners on the Winter Relief initiative include Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein and the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, the Jewish Federations of North America, World Jewish Relief, the Conference on Jewish Materials Claims Against Germany, the JDC Board, and individual donors and foundations.