Ahead of the Jewish New Year and more than 18 months since Russia launched its war on Ukraine, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is providing thousands of the most impoverished Jews in Ukraine with food packages containing traditional holiday items, such as apples and honey.
Hundreds of the neediest Jews across the former Soviet Union will also receive such packages for the holidays, starting before Rosh Hashanah, which begins at sundown on Sept. 15.
JDC has also released a holiday supplement highlighting issues of global Jewish needs, urging the Jewish public to incorporate discussion of these issues into their holiday observance. It offers a reflection on the traditional “Shehecheyanu” prayer and includes questions prompting discussions about responsibility to fellow Jews living in poverty; Israel’s most vulnerable; building Jewish identity for the next generation; and people facing natural disasters and development crises worldwide. With an eye to the ongoing crisis and emerging needs in Ukraine, the supplement also highlights the voice of a Holocaust survivor aided by JDC and the Claims Conference.
JDC will also hold events related to the New Year, both online and in-person. Activities include art and culture workshops; history lectures; live music performances; culinary classes; and traditional holiday meals and rituals.
“As we approach Rosh Hashanah, let us remember that the essence of the holiday lies not only in prayer and reflection but also in our duty to extend a helping hand to those in need,” said JDC CEO Ariel Zwang. “As we pray for sweetness and peace in the New Year, it is important that our compassion and assistance to those in need flow abundantly. From besieged Jewish communities in Ukraine to young Jews embracing their Jewish identities in new and exciting ways, we’re proud our food packages and hundreds of festive events will ensure they can fully embrace the holiday and affirm Jewish life for generations to come.”
The efforts are supported by JDC’s partnerships with the Jewish Federations of North America and the Claims Conference, and in a special initiative, the majority of food sets in Ukraine are provided in partnership with the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.