A four-day retreat in Truskavets, Ukraine was organized by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) for nearly 600 Jewish community volunteers from all over Ukraine to come together and learn from each other. The retreat was a chance for the volunteers to find solace and was highlighted by the singing of soulful havdalah tunes during the Shabbat gathering. The writer of the original article was uplifted by the vibrant Jewish life on display.
In Ukraine, everyday actions have become essential and lifesaving due to the country’s painful history of the Holocaust and Soviet oppression. The Jewish communities in Ukraine have worked hard to meet the humanitarian needs of the crisis, with over 3,000 volunteers working on projects providing assistance to 43,000 Jews in Ukraine and delivering 800 tons of humanitarian aid. Despite the challenges, Jews and Jewish communities in Ukraine remain resilient and resolute, choosing determination over despair. Tatiana Chumachenko, a mother of two from Odessa, started volunteering this summer and now runs weekly cooking classes and art therapy sessions for elderly Jews, and she said volunteering has saved her life.
The head of JDC’s network of 25 volunteer centers across Ukraine, Daria Yefimenko, and her team must cope with brutal shelling and unpredictable electricity cuts. They have daily fears for their loved ones and rising anxiety about what the future holds, but they continue to help their neighbors and share their pain and struggles.
Jews and Jewish communities in Ukraine are resilient in the face of challenges and committed to compassion and action, and have become stronger despite the odds against them. The volunteers have delivered medicine and firewood, power generators and portable heaters, and have provided a range of assistance to their neighbors. They are united by a clarity of purpose and determination that is inspired by their Jewish values.
WEISLER, ALEX. “Among Ukraine’s Jews, a Year of War Has Transformed Ordinary into Sacred.” The Jerusalem Post | JPost.com, https://www.jpost.com/j-spot/article-732326.