This Sunday, I will be flying to Ukraine to represent CJP and the Boston Jewish community on an important Jewish Federations of North America mission.
We make this visit in the second year of an ongoing crisis that has not abated. The economy there is struggling, with inflation at about 40%. Tensions continue with Russia and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. Ukraine continues to work toward building an open, responsive government that aspires to be more integrated into western European culture and markets.
All of this has created profound strain on the relatively large Jewish community in Ukraine. Many have left the conflict zone, some choosing to make Aliyah. Others have become a Jewish displaced people in Europe, the first since the end of World War II, part of a larger internally displaced Ukrainian people.
You can learn more about the crisis in this post from Alan Gill, CEO of the JDC, which is organizing this trip together with JFNA and the Jewish Agency.
Dnepropetrovsk, Boston’s sister Jewish community in the former Soviet Union and close to (but not in) the conflict zone, has become host to large numbers of refugees this past year and is where we’ll be staying during our visit. As many of you know, JCRC has been privileged to lead the Boston Jewish community’s partnership with Dnep (as we fondly refer to her) since 1992. As part of a broader commitment to best serve the ongoing needs of our Kehillah partner and to support JCRC’s move to a strategic focus on our work in the public square in Boston, we announced this week that the management of this partnership will transition from JCRC to CJP at the end of this month. However, it remains a true honor to represent our community next week on my third visit to Dnep.
The struggle for Soviet Jewry was a cause that defined JCRC and many American Jews in my youth. It was a movement I personally was proud to be raised within – quite literally – and it defined my own identity as a Jewish activist committed to global Jewish peoplehood. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the Dnepropetrovsk Kehillah Project has been part of a defining idea of Boston’s Jewish community; that we are connected to and responsible for the welfare of Jewish communities around the world. It is remarkable to see first-hand what has been achieved. It is profound to know that institutions we helped build are now serving as centers for refugees – Jewish and Christian – from the conflict zone. I look forward to sharing Boston’s unique partnership success with Jewish leaders from around the nation next week.
This relationship is just one among many that make Boston’s Jewish community unique. Even though the team at JCRC will no longer be managing this work, it is part of what makes me proud to be part of our special community. Of course, JCRC will continue to do government affairs advocacy in support of Ukraine, and we will be proud to be part of a community that cares so deeply about global Jewry.
I look forward to sharing with you my impressions of the situation in Ukraine and the work of so many of our friends and partner agencies.