Jewish Diaspora Communities focuses on our overseas connections and taking care of Jews around the world. In particular, we enrich our partnership with the Jewish community in Cherkassy, Ukraine; implement new overseas relationships; and continue to support the work of our international partners, including the Jewish Agency for Israel, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, and others.
“Today, amidst rising global anti-Semitism, the choice to remain Jewish in a hostile environment can be exceedingly difficult. Through our Yama platform we facilitate our Greater MetroWest community’s connection with and support (spiritual, emotional and financial) of our fellow Diaspora communities.”
One wonderful example of this is the Cherkassy Family Summer Camp in Ukraine. Each summer for the past 25 years, more than 100 people make the trip to Cherkassy Family Summer Camp along the Dneiper River in the Ukraine. Kids, parents, and grandparents come for a ten-day multi-generational Jewish experience. They celebrate Shabbat, they learn about Israel, they participate in a group b’nai mitzvah, they sing Jewish songs, and many of them, for the first time, explore their Jewish identity.
“This camp and others like it throughout Eastern Europe build Jewish community where there are so few opportunities to do so,” says Paula Saginaw, chair of Global Connections.
Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ, in conjunction with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, has a strong partnership with the Cherkassy Jewish community. The city of Cherkassy has a population of about 2,500 Jews, with an additional 2,000 living in the surrounding region. Over the years we have supported this community through various projects addressing both social welfare and Jewish renewal. We have been supporting the most at-risk populations through this difficult time of civil unrest. But what we are most proud of is our impact on reviving Jewish life in Cherkassy through the Hebrew school, the women’s group, the community center, and other Jewish groups.
By far, though, the most meaningful project we support in Cherkassy is the summer family retreat. The camp is staffed by young adults from our Greater MetroWest community and from our partner communities in Israel. There are people speaking English, Hebrew, and Ukrainian, but all are committed to creating a meaningful Jewish experience for the campers young and old.