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JDC lights darkness with increased humanitarian relief, Hanukkah celebrations

Since the start of the Russia-Ukraine war, JDC staff and volunteers have provided essential supplies and care to 43,000 Jews in Ukraine.

Galina Kovalenko,  one of more than 40,000 Jews in Ukraine currently cared for by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) as part of their Ukraine crisis response efforts, celebrates Hanukkah in her home in of Lviv, Ukraine. Credit: Yura Malenko.
Galina Kovalenko,  one of more than 40,000 Jews in Ukraine currently cared for by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) as part of their Ukraine crisis response efforts, celebrates Hanukkah in her home in of Lviv, Ukraine. Credit: Yura Malenko.

Across Ukraine, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) has expanded its annual winter survival program and is providing several online and in-person Hanukkah events for tens of thousands of vulnerable Jews, including the elderly and internally displaced people (IDPs).

“It’s tragically fitting that the light and hope we kindle to celebrate Hanukkah is needed now more than ever in the homes of Ukraine’s Jews. As they suffer without power, heat, and water for long periods of time in freezing temperatures, we continue to deliver the life-saving aid and holiday celebrations that ensure warmth, support, and community solidarity even in the darkest of times,” said JDC CEO Ariel Zwang.

Since the start of the Russia-Ukraine war, JDC staff and volunteers have provided essential supplies and care to 43,000 Jews in Ukraine, and have already aided 22,000-plus people with winter survival needs, more than double the amount served in previous years.

In the Kharkiv, Dnipro and Odessa regions, programs will include concerts, drama and dance performances, online holiday quizzes, cooking classes and community menorah lightings. In Sumy, community members will be treated to a special concert at the local philharmonic hall, followed by a public candle lighting in the city center.

Holocaust survivors in Odessa will hold a Chanukah party in coordination with the Migdal JCC. In addition, on the fourth night of Hanukkah, Active Jewish Teens (AJT) club participants from 14 cities will gather for an online auction whose proceeds will benefit local chapters in the form of goods like warm sweatshirts and volunteer service where participants donate hours delivering aid to the needy or running community programs in cities across Ukraine. AJT is JDC’s youth network in the FSU, powered in partnership with the Genesis Philanthropy Group and part of the BBYO global youth movement.

For the second year in a row, JDC will mark the holiday with “A Great Miracle Happened Here,” an eight-night global Hanukkah experience. This year’s event will take audiences to Ukraine, Australia, Moldova, Romania, Israel, Bosnia Herzegovina, Argentina and India for Hanukkah celebrations, cultural activities and candle lighting. Night one will have a special focus on the Ukraine crisis and will include appearances by Food Network host Duff Goldman, Broadway star Julie Benko and Rabbi David Wolpe of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles.

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