During a visit to an orphanage of Jewish children from Ukraine, leaders of the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) expressed their commitment to continue supporting Chabad’s life-saving efforts in Ukraine.
By COLlive reporter
Leaders of the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) were briefed about the state of Jewish communities in Ukraine and expressed their willing was to continue supporting them.
“We are committed to the partnership with Chabad,” said JFNA President and CEO Eric Fingerhut during a meeting coordinated by Chabad’s Jewish Relief Network Ukraine (JRNU).
They met in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon which is home today to refugee children from the Alumim orphanage which relocated there from the Ukrainian city of Zhitomir.
In addition to Fingerhut, joining from the JFNA were National Campaign Chair J. David Heller, Executive Vice President Shira Hutt, Rina Goldberg, and David Warren, Federation CEO in Hartford, Connecticut.
Representing the JRNU and Chabad in Ukraine were Rabbi Shlomo Peles, Zhitomir Chief Rabbi Shlomo Wilhelm, Rabbi Mendel Lieberman who heads Chabad of Ashkelon, and Rabbi Dovid Eliezrie of California who advises the JRNU.
Malkie Bukiet, who oversees the children in housed Ashkelon explained how the children have acclimated in Ashkelon and introduced them to two young boys who had a bris the day before. The leaders were welcomed with singing by the Ukrainian children at the Chabad school in Ashkelon.
Since the onset of the crisis in Ukraine, JFNA, the national body that coordinates the Jewish Federations across North America has provided crucial funding to work of the Chabad Shluchim in Ukraine.
In a long working session, Rabbis Peles and Eliezrie provided the Federation leaders with a detailed briefing on the work of Chabad throughout Ukraine.
Heller, the national campaign chair for JFNA, expressed his appreciation of Chabad’s cooperation with the JDC and the Jewish Agency, the two other primary Jewish agencies in Ukraine.
In the last year, Chabad has provided hundreds of thousands of meals, tens of thousands of medicines, and generators have been installed in over 150 locations.
Rabbi Peles explained, “From the very onset of the conflict we prepared and constantly adapted to the ever-changing challenges.”
At the beginning of the crisis, the primary focus was on helping people escape the conflict zones, later it shifted to helping those in critical need. Rabbi Peles explained the uniqueness of Chabad is the Shluchim on the ground who have been living there for decades and know their communities intimately. Rabbi Eliezrie noted, “The Shluchim who have remained in Ukraine and lead their communities despite the conflict are modern-day heroes.”
Over the years, Rabbi Eliezrie has worked to deepen cooperation between Chabad and the Federation system. He explained: “For many years Federations have provided support to Chabad in communities across the US for a wide variety of projects, as well as assistance in crises such as the hurricane in Florida last year.
“The collaboration in Ukraine is elevating that partnership to a new level. The support from the Jewish Federations of North America is enabling the Shluchim to save lives in Ukraine.”