After a year of intensive study despite the global pandemic, hundreds of participants at the YAHAD youth clubs in 52 branches across ten FSU countries decided to allocate part of their scholarships to a variety of charity projects. This was either instead of or in addition to purchasing attractive products in the ‘Shuk’ market set up by the organizers. In total, six million rubles were donated to various charity projects.
The 2020-21 academic year posed an unprecedented challenge to students across the globe. Many of the lectures moved online and remote studying became the new norm. Nevertheless, nothing could stop the thousands of Jewish students from across the former Soviet Union from participating in FJC’s Jewish learning courses initiated by the YAHAD organization.
Usually, the participating students enjoy a number of different types of scholarships awarded according to their chosen course. The most popular and prestigious reward is a vocational trip to Europe which traditionally ends with an emotional visit to the concentration and death camps in Poland.
This year, as a result of the travel limitations imposed by the Covid-9 pandemic, the EuroStars trip was canceled and an interesting substitute was created. A special online market was set up, under the Hebrew word ‘Shuk’, offering special kosher food, modern gadgets, modest clothing, Judaica products such as Tefillin and Mezuzahs, and an opportunity to donate to three selected charities. Each participant received a set budget to use as he wished.
To the surprise of the organizers, hundreds of students decided to donate their scholarships or part of it to charity, amounting to a sum of six million rubles. The funds were passed to the ‘Solomon’ organization to assist the needy, to the ‘Beit Chana’ Children’s home and orphanage in Moscow, to ten different Jewish communities in the FSU, and to the YAHAD organization towards the new upcoming season.
“We are touched and overwhelmed by our students’ passion and generosity,” says Rabbi Mendy Wilansky, director of YAHAD operations. “It is exciting to witness the impact and influence the studied materials have on the students, turning them into caring and considerate people. The ‘Shuk’ initiative has so far been used twice and has been combined with local trips to safe sites. We pray and hope that soon we will be able to return to regular activity and once again see a thousand students unite together in a life-changing trip to Europe.”