Israel war

A Healing Hug, JDC’s Hibuki dog

These days all of Israel is coping with a great amount of anxiety and distress, and the youngest Israelis are struggling the most. To offer comfort and psychological relief to children from the South who witnessed and experienced unspeakable atrocities, we’ve deployed our Hibuki therapy program to address the needs of thousands of traumatized Israeli children during this current conflict.

As you may recall, Hibuki — based on the Hebrew word “hibuk,” which means hug — was born during the Second Lebanon War, a shared project of JDC, the Israeli Ministry of Education, and the Department of Psychology at Tel Aviv University. Since its creation, Hibuki has helped over 10,000 traumatised Israeli children in communities along Israel’s southern and northern borders.

Additionally, JDC deployed this program to help Japanese children following the 2012 Tsunami and Ukrainian refugee children at the height of the conflict in 2022.

The doll helps children regain feelings of control and process what they have been through. By taking care of Hibuki, identifying with him, and playing with him, children find ways to express uncertainty and the complicated feelings they have about what they experienced. Conducted in a safe and protected space in the hotels now housing tens of thousands of displaced Israelis, the program also helps parents, educators, and caregivers learn how to enable children to project their emotions, fears, and needs onto Hibuki and then provide appropriate support.

Please take a moment to watch this video to learn more about the positive impact of this healing approach, and feel free to share it with networks as well.

All of our emergency relief efforts, including this Hibuki initiative, would not be possible without the leadership of our dedicated Israel team, who advance our sacred mission in these very hard times.

The JDC is looking to raise over $3 million US dollars so more Hibuki dolls can be distributed throughout Israel. One doll costs US$ 50. Please consider donating.

Winter Survival In Ukraine: How JDC Is Helping Those In Need

Winter Survival In Ukraine: How JDC Is Helping Those In Need

Not only does Ukraine have a nearly year-long war to contend with, but it is facing its deadliest winter in years, with the country being frozen for months.

JDC is committed to easing the pressure on Jewish people in the country by providing them with inter-relief aid such as heaters, cooking stoves, sleeping bags for sub-zero temperatures, rechargeable torches, blankets, fleece-lined clothing, wood, coal and energy bill subsidies.

See how we are helping below:

Energy supply cuts caused by Russia’s heavy bombardment of the country’s infrastructure are combining with freezing cold winter weather to create a deadly cocktail, the World Health Organization has warned.

“This winter will be life-threatening for millions of people in Ukraine,” according to Dr Hans Henri Kluge, the United Nations health agency’s regional director for Europe.

In Bulgaria, One Family Opens Their Home (and Their Hearts) to Ukraine’s Jews

In Bulgaria, One Family Opens Their Home (and Their Hearts) to Ukraine’s Jews

When the Ukraine crisis began, Bistra Titeva took her calling as a hospitality professional even more seriously: She and her husband opened their home to a family seeking shelter.

Titeva describes this experience, her connection to the Bulgarian Jewish community, and the responsibility she feels to help the vulnerable in their hour of need,” she recalls.

“It all began that March afternoon, ten days after the conflict began in Ukraine. I was doing some Friday shopping with my husband, Bobby, and purchasing things for the weekend.

“Then, my phone started buzzing: It was Julia Dandolova, the CEO of Shalom, the Organization of Jews in Bulgaria. She told me that a family of five needed accommodation — two parents and three daughters. Would I be able to open my doors to this family in need?

“In truth, we didn’t even need an hour,” she says. “To many people, this choice would be a difficult one, and rightfully so: What’s more personal, more intimate, and more private than opening your home to people you’ve never met?”

Adding: “Sure, this was a big step for Bobby and me. But at the end of the day, the answer was simple: We’d open our doors, open our hearts, and welcome this family in need.”

As the Ukraine Conflict Continues, JDC Increase Its Life-Saving Care for Jews and Jewish Refugees in Europe

As the Ukraine Conflict Continues, JDC Increase Its Life-Saving Care for Jews and Jewish Refugees in Europe

Ukraine’s vibrant Jewish community is one of the largest in the world, home to an estimated 200,000 Jews prior to the current Ukraine crisis. Since the collapse of communism, JDC has worked across the former Soviet Union (FSU) to save Jewish lives and build Jewish life. In Ukraine alone, JDC has been serving over 42,000 Jewish elderly and 2,500 poor Jewish children and their families through our network of care services, Jewish community programs, and Jewish leaders.

As the world prepares to commemorate one year since the start of the crisis in Ukraine, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) continues expanding its life-saving humanitarian relief efforts for tens of thousands of vulnerable Jews in Ukraine and Jewish refugees in Europe. This includes ever-widening aid to survive the winter months; material support such as food, medicine, housing and utility subsidies; integration support for refugees in European Jewish communities; and trauma support through six trauma centres around Ukraine.

“Although the crisis no longer carries every headline, the most vulnerable Ukrainian Jews –including the elderly, the new poor, the internally displaced, and refugees – are still living through this conflict every day, and we must redouble our efforts to ensure their ongoing care and community life now and for the future,” said JDC CEO Ariel Zwang. “We can take a pause and note all we have achieved – and acknowledge an endless debt of gratitude to our heroic staff and volunteers and to our stalwart partners and supporters – but our work continues. We urge the Jewish community and all people to join us in sharing stories of Ukrainian Jewish perseverance and hope to remind the public that more needs to be done to support this community.”

Right now, you can help us continue to be a lifeline for Ukraine’s most vulnerable Jews caught in the devastating throes of conflict.

Donate today.

jewish refugees boarding bus

The Story of Post War Jewish Immigration to Australia

At the end of WWII tens of thousands of liberated Jews found themselves with nowhere to go. By late 1945, some 75,000 Jewish survivors sought refuge in displaced-persons (DP) camps that were hastily set up in Germany, Austria, and Italy. These camps were poorly resourced and quickly became overcrowded. A massive aid program ensued to provide urgent necessities to these survivors in the face of critical shortages. The JDC was instrumental in providing desperately needed food and clothing as well as later facilitating reunification of loved ones who had been separated by the war.

Most of the surviving Jewish community wished to leave Europe and build a new life far from the devastation they had suffered. For some, Australia represented a promising haven and in the period from 1945 to 1961 around 25,000 Jewish refugees migrated to Australia reinforcing an Australian Jewish community that numbered only 23,000 in 1933.

The passage of these refugees was aided in large part by the JDC who together with Australia’s small Jewish community, were instrumental in ensuring the peaceful resettlement of Holocaust survivors.

After the Nazi’s seized power in 1933, many Jews sought to escape persecution. It was not easy for Jewish refugees to be granted passage to Australia. Anti-Jewish feelings could be found amongst both sides of the political spectrum. Such views were notably expressed by Australia’s delegate at the 1938 Evian Conference, Thomas W. White, who declared: “As we have no real racial problem, we are not desirous of importing one by encouraging any scheme of largescale foreign migration.”

Ultimately some 9,000 Jews from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia arrived in Australia before the outbreak of war in 1939 made further emigration all but impossible. This small community was ‘deeply moved by the enormity of the destruction of European Jewry, and were determined to do everything possible to assist in the rehabilitation of survivors by sponsoring their emigration to Australia.’ (Rutland, 2009)

After 1945 there was a growing understanding amongst policy makers that Australia would not be able to sustain the rate of economic development without increasing its refugee intake. This sentiment was popularised by the slogan ‘populate or perish.’

As the number of immigrants from non-British backgrounds increased, so did anti refuge hysteria, often propagated by the media.  During this time, there was also an acute housing shortage in Australia which exacerbated anti refugee sentiment. Despite considerable sympathy for the plight of the Jewish people by the Immigration Minster Arthur Calwell, Australian policymakers were not enthusiastic about facilitating Jewish immigration and ‘insisted that the reception and integration of refugees was the responsibility of the Jewish community. ’ (Rutland, 2009)

jewish refugees boarding bus
A group of Jewish refugees boarding the bus to Marseilles, where they will then emigrate to South America or Australia


The Australian Jewish leadership had been eager to assist the resettlement of European Jewry before the war and had already established ties with the JDC in America. After the war, these connections were quickly resumed and the enormous task of resettling the survivors of the Holocaust was taken up by the JDC.

The task was further compounded by a series of discriminatory policies introduced by the Australian government to restrict the number of Jewish migrants coming to Australia. This included the introduction of quotas on ships and airplanes coming from Europe to Australia which were required to only contain 25% Jewish passengers.

Nevertheless, the JDC successfully facilitated the migration program. From financing resettlement, which included providing hostel accommodations, English classes, employment assistance, and interest-free loans to establish businesses.

jewish immigrants
Australia-bound emigrants smile and wave as they await departure at the Ciampino Airport. Rome, Italy, 1948. Photographer: Ghibli, Rome. JDC Archives Photograph Collection, item NY_50872.

The Joint’s archives and online database offer a unique opportunity for the Australian community to explore and discover this history. If you would like to know more about your family’s history search the Joint’s archives.

Regina Neustein Holocaust survivor

Against the Odds The Story of Regina Neustein By Rachel Neustein

On the 29th September 1947 the SS Sagittaire docked in Sydney Harbour. On board were over 200 Jewish refugees. The voyage was organised by the JDC who made it possible for thousands of survivors to begin in a new life in a land of peace. One of the passengers on board the Sagittaire who a young women called Regina Neustein, this is her story.

The day Germany invaded Poland the country was home to approximately 3,225,000 Jews. Just six years later, on May 8, 1945, when Germany surrendered, 3 million had been killed. Only 225,000 remained.  Regina Neustein was one of those survivors. The odds were against survival. To be caught meant almost certain death. Regina Neustein was not caught, and against all odds, she managed to survive, to live to tell her tale.

Sydney, Australia is thousands of kilometres from the little town of Zloczow, Poland, where Regina Neustein grew up. For 75 years Sydney has been her home, but not a day goes by without her recalling her childhood in Europe -the happiness and the sadness. Regina has survived a devastating war in Europe, an arduous ocean voyage to Australia, and years of trying to make ends meet and raise a child in a foreign land. At the age of 77, she has suffered many hardships, but she now lives in comfort in Rose Bay.

Born in 1917, Regina or Gina, as she was called,  grew up in the peaceful town of Zloczow, in the mountains of southern Poland. Zloczow was an unusual town. Of a population of 17,000, there were 12,000 Jews. While Jews all over Poland were estranged from their neighbouring Christians, the Jews and Christians of Zloczow coexisted happily, and Regina never felt even the most subtle twinge of anti-Semitism.

Regina Neustein Holocaust survivor
Regina Neustein as a girl

Her parents, Bertha and Moses Rosen, were wealthy, and Regina had a comfortable  upbringing. Her father owned a large department store and was the president of the leading Zionist organisation in Zloczow. Regina had a brother and a sister, Avraham and Klara.

Despite all this happiness, there was much sadness in Gina’s childhood too. In 1929, her mother, Bertha Rosen, died tragically at the age of 39, when Gina was just 11 years old. For a year the whole family wore black, and Gina sorely missed her mother. Yet life found some normality. Five years passed without too much incident, until in 1934, tragedy struck again. Gina’s father, Moses Rosen, passed away aged 49. All his life Moses had suffered from asthma, which in the end was impossible to control. He died of an asthma attack.

Throughout Gina’s childhood the rise of Adolf Hitler loomed like a dark cloud. In 1933, the year before Moses Rosen’s death, Hitler became Chancellor of Germany. The impact of his power was yet to reach the little town of Zloczow.

The family continued to profit from the huge shop, which had two levels, and sold many goods, including a wide range of fabrics, rugs, linoleum, curtains, sheets and tablecloths.

Having finished school, Gina went to university in Lvov to study law. After finishing her first semester, she decided that law bored her, and spent her time learning Hebrew instead. During this period of her life, some university friends introduced Gina to a young man called Oskar Reiner, who was working in Zloczow. They began to see each other, and eventually, they fell in love.


Oskar Reiner
Oskar Reiner

The War Years 1939-1945

On 1 September, 1939, the German army marched into Poland, a land where Jews had dwelt in relative peace for over 800 years. Two days later, World War II was declared. Now in a matter of days, that peace was shattered.

Zloczow fell into the hands of the Russians. The Rosen shop, closed by the Germans soon after their invasion, was reopened by the Russians, who ordered the Poles to work for them.

At that time, the Rosen family was extremely lucky· to be living in the part of Poland annexed to Russia. While they suffered some problems and cruelty under the Russians, it did not compare to the brutality wrought on the Jews of western Poland by the Germans.

Oskar decided to join his parents in Stryj, Gina joined him and in March, 1940, they were married and began living with Oskar’s parents, Maximillian and Adele Reiner.

Month by month, Hitler’s power was growing. In 1941 he turned his attention to defeating the Soviet Union. Three army groups comprising almost 3 million men attacked the 3,200 kilometre-long front from Leningrad in the north, and Moscow in the centre, to the Ukraine in the south.

When the German army occupied the eastern part of Poland once again, the Jews fell back into the hands of the Nazis. Pogroms equivalent to those of Kristallnacht took place throughout eastern Poland and Ukraine. Jews throughout the region were attacked and murdered, synagogues were burnt to the ground, windows were smashed and possessions looted. That night of terror was named “Petluranacht”, after a Ukrainian “hero” who had murdered hundreds of Jews during the 1918 pogroms.

The Jews of Stryj were moved into a ghetto. Newly married, Gina and Oskar moved into an apartment in the ghetto together with Mr and Mrs Reiner senior and two other families. All four Reiners shared one room.

One day Oskar was picked up off the street while he was on his way to work. He was arrested as part of the first action and forced to join a group of men who were being held in the city gaol. Gina was desperate. Using some connections, she was able to bribe a Polish doctor to go in and smuggle Oskar out. However, It seems that Oskar, huddled amidst all the  men in the crowded gaol, heard his name being called out, but did not want to draw attention to himself for fear of death or torture, and did not respond. When Gina heard that he had not answered, she was devastated, but there was nothing more she could do. A few days later she learned that all the prisoners had been marched into a nearby forest and  shot.

While living in the ghetto in Stryj, Gina managed to find work in a German shop run by a compassionate Polish woman, Helen Nahirna. Helen was Gina’s saviour. Throughout the German occupation and persecution of Jews, Helen did her upmost to protect Gina.

Every day Gina would walk through the ghetto gates and into the town, to the shop. This was possible because the ghetto was not yet locked. The shop was a means of selling second hand goods to the Germans and the Poles; it was similar to a pawn shop. It was therefore possible for Gina to bring in valuables and sell them for money.

warsaw Ghetto
Residents of the Warsaw ghetto shopping in a vegetable street market. The Nazis deliberately limited food supplies to the absolute minimum which caused near starvation amongst the population from the very beginning of the ghetto’s existence.

Having money was a very important part of ghetto life. Money bought food and often meant the difference between life and death. There were people starving by the thousands in the crowded ghetto.  In the shop, Gina sold all her beautiful wedding presents.  Meanwhile, life for the Jews was becoming increasingly difficult.

While walking in the streets of Stryj, she saw Hasidic men having their beards and sidelocks sliced off, before they were shot. Whenever a Pole, Ukrainian or a German was about to pass them on the footpath, Jews had to step off the footpath into the gutter.  Through Helen Nahirna, Gina contacted a Jewish engineer by the name of Jakob Rappaport.

Rappaport had a wife and child, who had both escaped to Palestine before the war. Rapport’s Ukrainian neighbour, a man called Ivan Kuzyk had agreed to build a bunker in the forest. The bunker was to hold Rappaport, some friends, his two brothers and their wives and children.

Building the bunker placed his family in great danger. Nevertheless, under cover of darkness Kuzyk worked quickly to complete the bunker. When it was finished, it was just deep enough to allow someone to stand. It was divided into 13 cubicles, one for each person. Kuzyk lined the ground with straw, and supplied a bucket and a curtain for a “discreet” bathroom area.  A month before her scheduled escape, Gina’s parents-in-law were rounded up in an aktion while she was at work. Until then she had been looking after the elderly couple. Now she was alone.

Gina had lived in the ghetto for two years. She had seen many aktions, and many deaths from hunger and disease. She had been part of a crowd of Jews who were locked in a synagogue which the Germans claimed they were going to set alight. Miraculously and inexplicably, they were freed. Gina had seen the exhaustion the labour camps caused, she had seen starving children, she had seen people menaced and killed, she felt she had seen hell.

One day in 1943, Gina walked out of the ghetto, but instead of going to the shop, she walked towards the outskirts of town, taking off her Star of David as she walked. She was met by a peasant, and they proceeded to walk into the forest. While a neighbour kept guard, Kuzyk showed Gina into the hiding spot where she would spend the rest of the war.

At this stage Gina was feeling numb, depressed and sorry to be alive. Her great love had been murdered, and she cared about nothing else.

Yet, surprisingly, even when her mind wanted to die, her body had the will to survive. Somehow her feet carried her to the bunker, and her mouth spoke to her new “roommates” and to Kuzyk. There were 1O adults in the bunker, including Gina who was 24 when she first went into hiding, and three children, aged 12, 9 and 3 years old.  Gina carried only a couple of blankets and a cushion with her, but she wore as much clothing as possible. The bunker, being underground was never too cold, not even in the freezing Polish winters.

Gina, the youngest· adult, would often play with the children, helping to keep them occupied. While outwardly she displayed good spirits, inside she was in the depths of despair. She explains, “When you lose your first love, you lose everything.”

Life in the bunker was not nearly as bad as life outside. Although they were confined, and feared discovery, they were not tormented, and did not have to witness the suffering of others. Every so often the inhabitants would be given an old newspaper to read, and thus they received some filtered world news. They never knew how much of the “news” was fact and how much was propaganda. Kuzyk tried his hardest to provide them with enough food.

Every couple of days he would smuggle some bread, soup, potatoes and occasionally, some meat to them. The children were always fed, even if the others had to go without. Although they often had to miss a meal, the inhabitants of the bunker never felt the gnawing hunger known to the Jews in the ghettos, labour camps and concentration camps.

Then, in August 1944, the day of freedom came at last. The Red Army liberated Stryj, and Gina was finally able to go outside once more. The inhabitants of the bunker had to be carried out, they could barely stand up, but they were alive!

Gina was horrified to discover that Kuzyk, who had hidden and protected her for almost two years, had been found out. He was murdered by a group of Ukrainian partisans, called the Bundera soon after Stryi was liberated.

Eventually Gina and other survivors began their weary way back to their hometowns all over Poland. Gina settled in linz Austria and soon after her arrival she met David Neustein when she delivered a message to him from some mutual friends.  She had known his parents in the ghetto, and a bond was formed. Even though David was 19 years older, they decided to make a new life together. On 28 August, 1946, Gina and David were married.

Regina and David Neustein's wedding photo
Regina and David Neustein’s wedding photo

Both wished to put the horrors of the war behind them, and a plan was put in place to immigrate to Australia. They travelled by train to Paris where they boarded the “Sagittaire”, the vessel that would carry them towards their new live. The couple arrived in Australia on 30 September 1947, there, they began picking up the pieces of their shattered lives.

The early years in Australia were very hard. Gina knew little English, Sydney was not the cosmopolitan city it now is, and the locals were not inclined to make it easy for foreigners. At first, they stayed with David’s cousins, but then the found a flat to rent in Paddington. Their landlady, Mrs Findlay was a kindly person and a great help. On 23 July, 1948, Gina gave birt, to a son, whom they named Michael.

Between 1957 and 1972, Gina had her own business in Newtown, selling women’s clothing and shoes. David kept the books. In 1961 Michael was Barmitzvah at Cremome Synagogue. Soon afterwards the family moved to Surry Hills, which was closer to the business, and Michael attended Sydney Boys High.  He went on to study architecture at the University of Sydney. When Michael was in 3rd year his parents achieved an Australian dream, after 21 years in Australia they bought their own home, a unit in Rose Bay.

Regina Neustein at Rachel Neusteins' bat mitzvah
Regina Neustein at Rachel Neustein’s bat mitzvah 1990

It is now 75 years since Gina Neustein emigrated to Australia, and 78 years since the town of Stryj was liberated. Gina’s war time experience remained with her the rest of her life. Events as terrible as those cannot be erased. She was always grateful that her parents died before the war, and she never forgot her fist love Oskar and continued to be tormented with nightmares of him in the gaol, crying “Why didn’t you save me!” Gina lost every member of her immediate family in the Holocaust.

By recording her story, I have helped the truth to be told. This story stands as testimony to the Holocaust. It is direct evidence which invalidates the claims of those who seek to deny the genocide that took its toll of six million Jewish lives.  The Jews of my generation must learn and remember the deeds of the past and, by doing so, must ensure that they are never repeated.

Tauma counselling for Ukrainian Jews

JDC Offers Trauma Counselling for Ukrainian Jews

With the help and generosity of our supporters, JDC is working to respond quickly and effectively to the Ukraine crisis. One of the ways we are doing this is by offering trauma counselling.

Tauma Relief for Ukrainian Jews
Zoom session with a psychologist in war-torn Mykolaiv

While images of destruction and physical devastation dominate the news, the crisis in Ukraine is also taking a less visible toll: the hundreds of thousands of victims suffering from trauma and PTSD. This week’s bulletin highlights the support that we provide to Ukrainian Jews coping with the trauma of fleeing their homes or living under constant threat.

Trauma & Stress: JDC Responds to War’s Hidden Toll

Trauma takes many forms. Over the past few months, JDC has assisted people suffering from domestic violence, anxiety, depression, and some traumas that are unspeakable. This impacts both emotional and physical functioning – making it harder to breathe and at times even move.

  • Hundreds of refugees received trauma relief through JDC
  • Hundreds more expected to receive long-term care
  • 1,500+ served by the trauma hotline

With your support, we are bringing relief to victims of trauma. This work takes place in Ukraine, where we run a trauma hotline for older adults, displaced people, and strained JDC staff. We connect those in need of deeper assistance with those equipped to help.

Recognising that symptoms of trauma persist long-term, we are already preparing for the months ahead. We plan to open trauma centres across Ukraine. These centres will offer group and individual assistance, catering to older adults who never imagined their lives would end up this way, and parents struggling to help their children work through deep-seated anxiety.

While the lion’s share of traumatized and displaced Jews remain in Ukraine, many are refugees in Europe. Since day one, we have offered psychological first aid to distressed refugees. Today, we work hand-in-hand with local Jewish communities.

Jewish youth raising money for Ukraine

Ukraine Telethon at the Central Synagogue to Aid Ukrainian Jews in Crisis

The Joint Australia, in collaboration with The Central Synagogue and the Australian Zionist Youth Council have united to adopt a ‘sister community’ in Odessa, Ukraine with a successful Charidy call-a-thon kicking off last Sunday morning.

Eighty volunteers, mostly members of our youth, prioritised this mission and invested both time and energy to reach out to our generous community to raise much needed funds. Every dollar raised will be immediately directed towards the urgent care and needs of 120 displaced Jewish children from the Mishpacha Orphanage of Odessa currently in Berlin, and also for the wider Jewish community within the Ukraine.

Ukraine Telethon at the Central Synagouge to Aid Ukrainian Jews In Crisis

There was a strong sense of camaraderie in the Central ‘call centre’. All on donation duty took their roles seriously, recognising the huge impact each dollar will have during these dire and desperate times. Some novice practiced calls to parents prior to dialling members and then confidently delivered their rationale for requests. All quickly found their rhythm and the overarching purpose added momentum and urgency.

Hineni Youth, Bnei Akiva, along with other representatives from our younger demographic in addition to parents, Kesser Torah College and so many others united. Day One was heart-warming and over $100,000 was raised with more donations to follow.

Rabbi Avraham Wolff is the Chief Rabbi of Odessa and has overseen the evacuation of these brave children – from babies to teens, with war still raging daily.

telethon for Ukrainian jews

Ukraine Telethon

Telethon for Ukrainian refugees

Ukranian Holocaust Survivor

Ukrainian Holocaust Survivors Find Support with JDC

A group of dedicated JDC workers have chosen to remain in Odesa, to offer comfort and support to Ukrainian Holocaust survivors even as rockets continue to rain down. One of them is Inna Vdovichenko. Below are some of Inna’s reflections on what life is like in Ukraine today and the important role JDC plays – caring for elderly and vulnerable families, sustaining a sense of community and helping internally displaced Jews.

Ukranian Holocaust Survivors

Interview with Inna Vdovichenko, JDC in Odesa

Where are you right now? I’m sitting next to a window in my office, I try to come in almost every day.

What is it like on the streets? Normally, Odesa is full of summer tourists. Today, the “visitors” are internally displaced people. The first few days of the war, people were in shock, no-one believed this could happen. Now people are more used to it, but it’s still unpredictable and anxiety inducing.

How are you coping? I made my first home visit on the fifth day of the crisis. I felt I had to do something, otherwise I would not feel alive. Most of the people JDC serves are still here, and today there are even more people that need help. My work is one of the reasons I haven’t left Odesa. I visit elderly Holocaust survivors who haven’t left their apartments in months, and our time together makes a meaningful difference to them.

What are your hopes for the future? I don’t know what I will do or feel “when this is over.” Everything is so intense right now. Will I be able to rest? I don’t know. Personally, I want to see my family. Professionally, I want to meet with the people who have been sustaining me all this time: colleagues, board members, supporters. It’s impossible to say how many people reached out to me; I want to hug them and say “thank you.”

What does JDC’s support mean to the Jews of Odesa at this time? When I speak to the people we help, I hear again and again, “JDC gives us life.”

JDC continues to assist thousands of Jews in Odesa and the surrounding region. Thank you for being there for Inna and supporting all in her embrace. 


Jewish Summer Program

Bringing Summer Joy to Ukrainian Children

Even as fighting, uncertainty, and despair continue to rage, JDC continues to uphold its mission, bringing relief to the vulnerable. This summer will be no exception for Ukrainian children and families. The JDC continues its tradition of providing Jewish summer programs even under the clouds of war.

Children and teens across the former Soviet Union and Europe look forward to JDC’s summer programs all year. This summer we are working extra hard to bring this taste of normalcy to the children and teens of Ukraine, whose lives have been upended by the war.

Across Europe, communities are opening their summer camps to Ukrainian refugees. In Estonia, refugee children even joined the community’s April spring camp, held a mere two months after the war began. Estonia’s summer day camp staff includes a Jewish Sunday School teacher, herself a refugee from Ukraine.   

In Poland, the community’s annual family camp will feature a tri-lingual program – in Polish, Russian, and English – to better facilitate communication between refugees and Polish-speaking campers. Poland will also host a day camp for some 60 Ukrainian children, ages 7-17. Camp will combine fun with academic classes in Polish, English and math to prepare campers for the Polish school system they will be entering in September.

In Ukraine itself, JDC plans on hosting three Family Retreats in quieter areas of the country. We are also organizing summer activities for some 400 Jewish children and teens through our Active Jewish Teens initiative. Lastly, over 100 members of the Odessa community will be traveling to Romania, which is hosting Odessa’s JCC Migdal annual Family Retreat.  

Over 800 Ukrainian Jews to take part in 20+ JDC summer activities in Ukraine and Europe

Thank you for bringing much-needed summer joy to Ukraine’s Jewish children, teens, and families.

Jewish Summer Program
The JDC-supported Spring Camp in Estonia welcomes refugees, April 2022