Every time 17-year-old Adrian Maydanich passed grocery-store shelves overflowing with kosher-for-Passover food in his Baltimore community, he stopped in his tracks. He could not stop thinking of Jewish people in Ukraine and the difficulties they will face obtaining even basic Passover items again this year as Russia’s onslaught on the country continues.
“I realized that Jews across Ukraine will face many obstacles just to share a Passover seder with their families,” the junior at Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School and a resident of Owings Mills, Md., told JNS.
The son of immigrants from Lviv and Kyiv who themselves faced discrimination and persecution in the Former Soviet Union, as well as a difficult journey to America, responded to the call. “As a first-generation American from a Ukrainian Jewish family, I felt compelled to help. After all, that could have been me,” explained the teen. “So I started a project, Jews4Ukraine, to enable specific charitable organizations to purchase and deliver Passover necessities to Jewish congregations across Ukraine.”
To date, Maydanich has raised more than $20,000 to help bring Passover food to some 1,100 Ukrainian Jews. He partnered with the Jewish Relief Network Ukraine, the largest Jewish humanitarian relief organization in Ukraine, supported by a number of agencies worldwide.
That way, he said, he can be assured that 100% of the funds raised will be used to distribute food for the Passover seder to congregations across the beleaguered country.
“My family is proud of our heritage and religion, and we celebrate our triumphs through adversity and the fulfillment of our American Dream,” said Maydanich. “We do not forget our past struggles; to the contrary, we always reflect on them and aspire to offer hope and comfort to people who need it. I feel deeply connected to both my Ukrainian and Jewish roots, admire my family’s triumphs and humanitarian efforts, and want to carry on these ideals through my mission to provide Passover meals to Jews across Ukraine.”
Judi Garrett, COO of Jewish Relief Network Ukraine, said Maydanich’s efforts embrace the essence of the organization.
“On Passover, one of the most important Jewish holidays, we celebrate our liberation from oppression and the beginning of new life. For the Jews of Ukraine, this holiday is particularly bittersweet, as the war continues,” she said. “On behalf of the 50,000 people we support in Ukraine, thank you, Adrian!”
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