By FJC.ru and COLlive
The Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS (FJC) have launched one of the most astonishing and complex humanitarian aid projects ever, sponsored by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) headed by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein.
Reaching out to hundreds of thousands of needy Jews, in both large cities, remote villages and territories under military siege in Ukraine and throughout the entire Former Soviet Union, the FJC and the Fellowship are distributing 100 tons of kosher for Passover Matzah and thousands of generous food packages – a necessity, a must that every Jewish family requires during the week of Passover.
Locations include countries such as Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan and many more – all of which have been directly or indirectly affected by the ongoing war in Eastern Ukraine. Due to this horrific situation, the poor have become even poorer, yearning for help like never before.
Life for the vast majority of the Jewish population in the post-Soviet states has been very difficult for decades. However, the situation since the beginning of the war has worsened dramatically. Those remaining in the Eastern parts of Ukraine are in the worst condition – they have barely anything to eat and suffer casualties and unbearable difficulties.
Those remaining behind have received not only Matzah, but also extended food packages – alongside thousands of additional especially needy families from other locations – that had to be smuggled into Eastern Ukraine in a dangerous and delicate operation. These families have been cut off from government pensions and assistance for more than half a year, and are under an ongoing siege denying them food and necessities. All of them have also lost their jobs and income.
“It was a very difficult task,” says the Chief Rabbi and Chabad emissary of Donetsk, Pinchas Vishedski. “The Matzah isn’t just food for Passover, it also means a whole world to the Jews of Ukraine. It gives them hope for a better future, reminds them of their Jewish roots and enhances their Jewish pride and commitment.”
Many thousands more fled the war zones and have become refugees. They are scattered across the land, and have nothing of their own; they left everything behind, in order to save their lives. The refugees are also receiving special assistance from the Fellowship in honor of Passover in addition to the ongoing emergency relief that grants them extensive help with rent, financial aid, food packages and clothing, and their personal special needs.
“In Odessa, we have one of the largest Jewish populations in Ukraine,” says the Chief Rabbi and Chabad emissary of Odessa, Avraham Wolff. “The community was always large and has many families in need, but now with thousands of additional refugees we could not have managed alone. Thanks to the Fellowship we are able to provide everybody with assistance, and we make sure nobody needs to wait in line or feel any shame or disgrace.”
In Moscow itself, a fleet of vehicles and volunteers of the Shaarei Tzedek Social Center has been delivering and distributing Matzah and food stamps in a city-wide effort led by Russia’s Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar.
Ready meals were prepared at the Marina Roscha Synagogue and Jewish Community Center and given to the 15,000 Jews in Russia’s capital that are registered as financially strapped.
Community public seders will be held around the city – in Chabad centers, educational institutions, community centers and even prisons. An estimated 3,000 people are expected at the various events at Marina Roscha on the seder night.