JERUSALEM — The Jewish Agency said it would offer immediate emergency assistance to the Jewish community of coup-ravaged Ukraine and help secure its institutions.
Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky’s announcement on Saturday came hours after protests in the former Soviet republic forced President Viktor Yanukovych to flee Kiev and the parliament announced new presidential elections for late May. Dozens died in violent demonstrations leading to the coup.
Some 200,000 Jews live in Ukraine, mostly in the capital of Kiev, according to the Jewish Agency.
The Jewish Agency will help Ukraine through its Emergency Assistance Fund for Jewish Communities, which enables Jewish communities at risk to strengthen security measures.
Sharansky said in a statement that Ukraine is “one of the most vibrant Jewish communities in the world, with dozens of active Jewish organizations and institutions. Recent events have shown that we must strengthen these institutions’ security measures. We have a moral responsibility to ensure the safety and security of Ukraine’s Jews.”
He told Jewish Agency leaders on Saturday night that the organization is in “constant contact” with the Jewish leadership in Ukraine and is following events there closely.
Rabbi Moshe Reuven Azman, a Chabad rabbi in Ukraine, told Ma’ariv that he advised his congregation to leave Kiev and the country, if possible. Rabbi Azman closed the Jewish community’s schools in the capital due to the violence, the Israeli daily reported.
To aid the Jews of Kiev and other Jewish Ukrainian communities relief efforts, including the delivery of food and other urgent necessities have been expanded by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, an overseas partner of UJA Federation of Greater Toronto and Montreal’s Federation CJA.
UJA Federation of Greater Toronto has launched the Jewish Ukraine Crisis Fund, with funds raised being allocated to the JDC and the Jewish Agency for Israel.
To contribute, visit ujadonations.com/Ukraine, or call 416-631-5705.
Montrealers who want to contribute to a fund to aid the Ukrainian Jewish community, set up by the Jewish Agency for Israel and the JDC, can do so through Federation CJA at federationcja.org/Ukraine, or by calling 514-735-3541, ext. 6460.