On Sunday, February 27, several members of our Global Connections B’Yachad Mission to Israel, together with other members of the Greater MetroWest community in NJ and Israel, had the opportunity to speak with some of our friends in and from Cherkassy about the devastating situation in Ukraine. The fact that so many of us from around the globe gathered together in solidarity, in our partner community of Kibbutz Erez, is a testament to the power of Jewish Peoplehood, which is the hallmark of our Federation community.
Our friends in Cherkassy have been part of our Greater MetroWest family for 25 years. We’ve all been consumed with worry by what is going on in Ukraine and we were eager to hear directly what was happening in their community. Here are some of their impressions:
At the beginning of the fighting, they did not really believe that a major war could happen. Now, with the exception of supermarkets and drugstores, the city is completely shut down, despite the fact that, at least for now, and very surprisingly in relation to its location, Cherkassy has remained fairly quiet.
- They are trying to maintain emotional resilience among the community. Their adult assistance programs in the community, which are supported by our Federation, are working as usual and are designed to work even through difficult times.
- While building the Hesed Center (Jewish Community Center) many years ago, preparations were made for the absorption of refugees from the city, including an option to house people there, provided they have necessary food and critical equipment. At the same time, there is a lot of volunteer activity happening within the Hesed, packing food and other essential items for soldiers and refugees. Women and children (and basically anyone who did not go to war) are doing everything they can to support the Ukrainian forces.
- They do not want foreign forces (including Americans) on the ground. They prefer to receive financial support, weapons, and humanitarian aid – as they have been – from the European Union, the U.S., and even Israel.
- They held back employee salaries for the first third of the year, anticipating that this emergency and its consequences could continue for some time. They expressed great pride in the leadership of President Zelensky and the resilience of the Ukrainian people in the face of the harsh reality.
- They are grateful for the support from the various branches of our community. The texts, emails, posts on social media, and other forms of outreach have provided them with a tremendous feeling of connectedness and love from friends and partners around the world.