Since 1995, the Chief Rabbi Moshe Azman and Mitzvah for Ukraine has been deeply dedicated to serving the people of Ukraine, to educating the next generation, to providing dedicated care for the elderly, sick and vulnerable, and to facilitating a warm and safe community.
While the conditions of our mission have certainly changed with the onset of the 2022 war, the mission remains the same. Collectively, we have evacuated over 40,000 people to safety and have established shelters for IDPs where we have been administering medical care, food, and clean drinking water to all.
THE EVOLVING SITUATION
The situation on the ground in Ukraine is complex and constantly evolving. There are millions who have been displaced from their home and many more who lack access to clean water, food, or power. Furthermore, most of the remaining people in Ukraine now suffer from the symptoms of post traumatic stress. The current time period presents several unique and immediate challenges. The most immediate danger facing Ukrainians is the impending winter. It is estimated that 40% of all Ukrainian infrastructure has been destroyed by the war, including 30-35% of the power grid. This destruction, combined with other resource shortages, have left millions – and tens of thousands within the Jewish community – without electricity, clean water, heating, or warm water. As winter approaches and temperatures begin to drop below freezing, a catastrophic humanitarian crisis looms.
Ukrainian transportation, energy, and medical infrastructure has also been heavily damaged, often as a result of targeted Russian attacks. Cross-country travel is not always practical or possible, cutting off many people’s access to healthcare or Jewish infrastructure. The national unemployment rate is 35%, facilitating an economic crisis for many families. The medical system is overwhelmed and given the transportation obstacles, many people remain unable to access regional clinics and hospitals. Hospitals, first-line responders, and other critical buildings lack necessary backup equipment to be able to function properly in the case of extended power outages. Beyond, as a result of the attacks on power infrastructure, access to clean water has become a critical issue.
Within the Ukrainian Jewish community, we estimate that 100,000 Jews remain in Ukraine, spread across various communities. In addition to the challenges facing non-Jews, the Jews of Ukraine face unique challenges, such as lack of access to kosher food, the breakdown of Jewish infrastructure such as access to a mikveh (a ritual bath), the collapse of the Jewish educational system, and the difficulty accessing proper Jewish burials. Additionally, Jews must content with the increased potential for an anti-semitic attack, which has increased dramatically since the beginning of the conflict, due to the potential for a politically-motivated, Russian, False-Flag attack and the fact that local security and police forces remain overwhelmed. Several months ago, a plotted attack was uncovered and the suspect was arrested by local authorities. In addition to our general humanitarian work, our efforts are also dedicated to continuing to support these meaningful institutions for the Ukrainian Jewish community.
Many in Ukraine have nowhere else to go and no one else to turn to. Our organization is tirelessly committed to providing them with consistent access to food, water, and medical support as well as remaining reactive to new emergencies – as demonstrated by our response in Kherson. Our efforts aim to empower communities with generators, water filtration systems, medical supplies and know-how, security support, soup kitchens, and emergency housing that enable them to more independently care for their own communal needs.
We recognize that ensuring the welfare of Ukrainians depends not only on organizing aid delivery but on strengthening international support of Ukraine, combating false Russian propaganda, and uniting international Jewish support. For these reasons, we often sponsor delegations to Israel and the United States. As the situation in Ukraine develops, we remain deeply committed to supporting the Ukrainian people and serving as a steadfast pillar for the Jewish communities of Ukraine.