Please join our community TONIGHT at 5:30 pm for a special (and brief) virtual Shabbat candle lighting. It is an opportunity to come together to welcome Shabbat and pray for a restful and peaceful 25 hours. Turn an ordinary Friday night into something extraordinary -- register here.
Public service announcement -- unfortunately, many in our community have received antisemitic flyers on their lawn. Please know law enforcement is aware and working closely with the Jewish community. If you do receive a flyer, we ask that you visit this site to report it.
I wish I could write about other things. Sadly, the conflict in Ukraine continues, and there seems to be no immediate end in sight. Over 1 million people have already fled the country and many more will follow. This includes many Jews – in fact, 10,000 have already requested to immigrate to Israel.
I am proud to share our community has risen to the occasion. As of this morning, we have raised over $130,000 in just 8 days. These funds have already been sent to our partner organizations in Ukraine.
Our campaign effort is not over, and we need to raise much more. If you have not already, consider making a contribution to this special campaign here. 100% of all funds raised go to address major areas of need:
- Humanitarian support including first aid, basic necessities such as food, medicine and clothing, and medical support. This includes a specially chartered plane carrying 15 tons of medical supplies, food, humanitarian aid, for all Ukrainian refugees at the Moldova border. The plane is also bringing an additional 40 medical personnel, EMTs, paramedics, doctors, psychologists, and therapists, to join the volunteers already on the ground.
- Transportation to bring displaced people to the borders or safe facilities, and temporary housing either in Ukraine or while they wait to make aliyah or shelter outside the conflict zone.
- Security grants to small Jewish organizations across Ukraine.
- Deployment of additional staff and materials to deliver this work in the field.
I encourage you to watch this short video about the incredible work our partners are doing on the ground.
Vitaliy Novikov (who is in the video), the director of elderly welfare programs at JDC’s Halom Jewish Community Center in Kyiv, shared the following with me while in a bomb shelter.
“The most difficult thing is to explain to my 3-year-old daughter that war has begun, so I made up a fairytale. I told Polina that the shelling she hears is the sound of thunder, that sometimes the sky gets angry, and we must hide from it."
“We’re not stopping our work. We are checking in on our clients and continuing our activities as much as possible at this most dangerous time. We’re explaining to them what to do in case something bad happens — how not to panic, how to save lives. I’m not panicking, but yes, I’m scared.”
“I’m very grateful to all the Jewish organizations in Ukraine and around the world for their support. I hope that sirens will never sound in your house, and I pray for peace for all people.”
Our JDC contact reports, “In the days following the invasion of Ukraine, I remain humbled and inspired by our brave colleagues on the ground — people like Vitaliy, who continue to work tirelessly to support the most vulnerable Jews, even as they face the impact of war themselves.
“I’ve received countless stories of incredible heroism and inspiration — homecare workers so devoted to their work that they are hunkering down with their clients through the curfews and the shelling, rather than with their own families; dozens of elderly joining a Zoom Shabbat service from their homes in besieged cities all across the country; one colleague — a single mother with a preteen daughter — making time to call the elderly Jews we serve from the underground parking garage where she's been living for more than three days."
“We’re not sure what the future holds, but we know we will continue to be there — no matter what. At this critical time, we’re committed to the uninterrupted provision of food, medicine, and other emergency support: a lifeline to tens of thousands of Jews in over 1,000 locations across Ukraine.”
Here is a moving story how a synagogue in Uman (where the tomb of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov is located, the founder of the Breslov Hasidic movement who died in 1810) is using its basement as a shelter for anyone in need. The basement is where the synagogue's mikvah is located. Uman's Jewish community has dwindled from around 600 people to less than 60 since the Russian invasion began.
You should be so deeply proud of this work. I know I am. In Ukraine and neighboring countries there are Jewish heroes on the ground who are literally saving lives while putting their own at risk.
Our community recently held two virtual programs (one sponsored by the Jewish Federation and the other by the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education) about the situation in Ukraine. Click here for Professor Natan Meir from Portland State University along with his slide show presentation. In addition, click here for Professor Marat Grinberg from Reed College. Both provide excellent context to the conflict.
Be proud. We are doing incredible things to help the Ukrainian people.
Shabbat shalom and I hope to see you tonight at the 5:30 p.m. candle lighting.