US Jewish charity helps thousands of Ukrainian Jews keep warm

A US-based charity has delivered millions of pounds worth of generators to communities

Based on an article by Georgia L Gilholy | THE JEWISH CHRONICLE

As the crisis rages on in Ukraine, a Jewish charity is helping communities keep warm throughout the harsh Eastern-European winter.

During last year’s High Holy Days, the Jewish Relief Network Ukraine (JRNU) Jewish charity began distributing more than 150 generators across the country’s Jewish schools, synagogues, and community centers.

The New York-based charity which provides critical humanitarian aid across Ukraine, launched an autumn campaign to fund generators that could help Jewish communities survive the winter.

One JRNU volunteer told The Jerusalem Post newspaper on Monday “the generators were launched from different countries around the world, through many border crossings and reached the Jewish communities just in time.”

“The generators were installed with the assistance of huge cranes in the courtyards of many synagogues and Jewish community centers,” they explained.

The JRNU says that demand for generators has now far outpaced supply and it is virtually impossible to have any new ones delivered before spring.

Just this week, five new units were installed in the cities of Chernivtsi and Rivne.

The installations have allowed thousands of Ukrainian Jews to keep warm, heat food, and charge their electronics in various communal spaces.

“Thanks to JRNU’s boots-on-the-ground presence in Ukraine we are uniquely able to identify the most urgent needs and address them quickly and effectively. We are helping people all across Ukraine, in the largest cities and the most remote villages. Our current challenge is to secure sufficient funding to cover the cost of fuel and connection fees for the generators,” the aid organization explained in a statement.

Rabbi Shlomo Chaim Peles, who heads up the JNRU’s rescue center, told the JP: “The community centers and the synagogues are now bright, warm, and inviting. They have become much more than any other center. Every Jew feels as if he is cared for around the clock and there is nothing more wonderful than causing ease for them during these dark times.”

He also said that the funding JRNU had received from the Jewish Federations of North America and the Orthodox Union had been essential to their work.

Hinting toward a light at the end of the tunnel in the conflict, Rabbi Peles went on: “At the beginning of the crisis, we were concentrating on rescuing Jews, but nowadays, all of our rabbis are focusing all of their efforts on the survival and preservation of the lives of Jews.

“There is no doubt that these generators have an important and decisive influence on the survival of the community members and their Jewishness.”

A 2020 study found that Ukraine was home to 43,000 Jews, but it is estimated that Ukrainians of at least partial Jewish ancestry are around four times this figure.

Over 12,500 Jews have been evacuated from Ukraine since the crisis began.

Temperatures often reach their lowest ebb in Ukraine throughout January, with an average high temperature of -2°C and an average low temperature of -6.3°C.

In the northern Ukraine city of Chernihiv, home to one of Ukraine’s oldest Jewish communities, temperatures plummeted to -7°C on Monday.

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