Support and Solidarity for Ukraine

May 27, 2014

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Dear Friends of The Fellowship,

When I traveled to Ukraine earlier this year, I was struck by the great needs there, by how vulnerable the Jewish orphanages and community centers are, since they are located so close to the unrest and violence that is plaguing the region.

After weighing the risks of traveling to this troubled part of the world against the great needs of the Jewish community there, I went back to Ukraine the weekend before last, and will return whenever I am needed. The message of support means so much to the Jewish community last time, and as the tension heats up it is critically important for them to know we are still standing strong with them.

Since my first trip I have been in close communication with the rabbis who run our Fellowship-supported initiatives. One recently wrote me, “Now the situation in Donetsk is extremely bad. It is real anarchy. There are loads of prisoners, thieves, and armed people in the streets. People are scared. I am worried about our community, because Jewish lives can be in real danger.”

Food costs are up in Ukraine by 20-30 percent, and the cost of medicine is up 70 percent. Those who were already struggling financially to survive are now in real peril. And there is great physical danger. Jews in the area are aware that Ukraine has a long history of anti-Semitism, and they know that this hatred can rise in a flash given the lack of law and order.

Because parents fear for their children’s safety, only 40 percent of schoolchildren have been attending the Jewish schools in the area in recent months. Elderly Jews who went through the Holocaust and saw the rise of anti-Semitism firsthand are concerned about the acts of vandalism at synagogues in the area and the attacks on people going into them. People are staying in their homes, afraid to go out even to run to the supermarket.

The Fellowship has already given so much to help with humanitarian programs covering basic needs like food, mainly for the homebound elderly and children. And because the number of Ukrainian Jews seeking to make aliyah (immigrate to Israel) has risen drastically in recent months, we are providing, as always for aliyah assistance through our On Wings of Eagles ministry. We will continue to communicate with Jewish leaders in the region to assess and fill their needs during this difficult time.

I was honoured to return to Ukraine and tell these Jewish children and elderly that the same Christians and Jews in Canada, who stand with them all year round, providing food, clothing, and medical assistance, are standing with them in this time of crisis. I ask for your continued prayers – for the safety and support of vulnerable Jews in the region, and for God’s most precious gift of shalom, peace, for us all.

With prayers for shalom, peace,

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder, International Fellowship of Christians and Jews® of Canada


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