Cherkasy, Kiev, Ukraine:

Cherkasy
Kiev, Ukraine

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Chesed  Dorot

by

Esther Rechtschafner

 

Chesed Dorot was established in 1997 by the Joint Distribution Committee. This is a connection between Cherkassy and Metrowest, New Jersey. The Metrowest Jewish community is trying to help strengthen the Cherkassy Jewish Community by supporting this community financially and morally. The city of Ofakim, Israel also takes part in this assistance to Cherkassy Jews. 

Chesed programs assist both social welfare needs for the elderly and Jewish Renewal programs that help foster Jewish identity, especially among the youth. These programs are also open to Jews who live in the Cherkassy region.

 Welfare services include: home-care and medical assistance, food (communal dining room, meals -on –wheels), and communal center activities for elderly, adults, youth and children.

There are various clubs, activities and programs which include the following: a Computer Club, a Women's Center, a Jewish Kindergarten, a Jewish Newspaper, a Cultural Arts program, Youth Club.

One of our most important activities is the Summer Family Retreat (i.e., camp) which takes place every year.  Madrichim (i.e., leaders) from MetroWest, from Israel, and other places are sent to Cherkassy every year, to join the Ukrainian counselors.  These young people (college and post-college, post-army) have come back and stated that this experience has "changed their lives". 

Over the past fifteen years there have been six missions, each lasting from five to six days. Each mission usually is a group of about fifteen to twenty-five people ranging in age from forty to sixty-five.  Three teenagers who were becoming Bar and Bat Mitzvah participated in two of these trips.  They shared their simcha with teens from Cherkassy.   Five women from Ofakim joined ten women from MetroWest on the 2000 mission. This was therefore a special "Women's Mission". They met with approximately twenty women leaders of Cherkassy.  It was an amazing trip. This was possibly the only trip that included people from Ofakim. 

Many of the volunteers have been to Cherkassy many times and have maintained very close connections with the people there.  Sometimes, the Cherkassy Jews   "become family" and are deeply cared for.  Some have made Aliyah and have been visited in Israel.   The connections and friendships made in Cherkassy are forever!

These programs have caused more families and youth in Cherkassy to live Jewish lives and more elderly Jews to have a better quality of life.

The lives of those in MetroWest who are connected with Cherkassy have been enriched because of this connection.

The next plans include

1.      A Peoplehood group trip, ten individuals from MetroWest and ten from Israel, to Cherkassy and Odessa this April.

2.      A trip to Odessa and Cherkassy this summer.

As for the future of the Jews in Cherkassy, some Jews remain by choice and become active in the Jewish Community.  Others remain out of necessity because they either cannot physically leave or cannot leave for financial reasons.  Some Jews make Aliyah to Israel, while others move elsewhere in Europe or to the States.

Here are examples of the work of Hesed Dorot in Cherkassy:

§  As a result of negotiations with the Government of Germany, 80,000 people, Holocaust survivors now living in the former Soviet Union, for the first time will receive compensation. The program will be operational on November 1, 2012. This includes Cherkassy Jews.

§  October 21, 2012, Cherkasy's Jewish community had visitors from the United States.  A delegation of thirty-three American women, most of whom were activists of Kesher, the international Jewish women's organization.  The delegation included the Chairwoman of the Board of Directors of Project Kesher, Rita Kešner, Board members Sheila Lambert, Nancy Solomon, and Dayan Val.  The delegation was headed by Keren Gershon – Executive Director of Project Kesher in the United States. The delegation included three experts:  Chula Rejnharc (Professor, Brendajs University), Sonia Izard (Publisher of the journal Lilith), and Rabbi Rina Blumenthal (Vassar College).

§  The Cherkassy Jewish kindergarten, "Flowers", which operates on the basis of municipal kindergarten Number 81, had a special program for the Jewish Holidays.

§   Summer Camp is a family summer camp, one of the most significant Jewish educational opportunities for the Cherkassy community. The counselors from Ofakim/Merchavim and United Jewish Communities MetroWest serve at the camp. This brings together Israeli, Ukrainian, and American Jews.

Photographs (2001):

http://hesednewsen.ucoz.ua/_ph/2/358241705.jpg

(From  http://hesednewsen.ucoz.ua/photo/2011/1-4-0-0-8)

Each year young adult volunteers from Greater MetroWest receive intensive training in Israel and then spend 10 days as counselors at the camp followed by a tour of historic Kiev.

(From   http://metrowest.ujcfedweb.org/local_includes/downloads/58877.pdf)

§  Rosh Hashanah in Cherkassy

 

http://hesednewsen.ucoz.ua/foto/rosh_a_shana_2012.jpgDuring Rosh Hashanah, Hesed Dorot sponsored a festive celebration dedicated to rejoicing the beginning of the year 5773.
On the second day of the holiday, there was a festive meal.

Speakers were the Head of United City Community, David Letichevsky; Chairman of the board of the Charitable fund Hesed Dorot, Yuriy Horoshchanskiy; and Fund Director Dmitriy Spivakovskiy.
Chief Rabbi of the Cherkassy region, Dov Akselrod, blessed the community and blew the shofar.
The  Entertainment program of the celebration was:

o   The children’s band Tsiporim.

o   The Hesed choir Galibte Nigunem.

Later on, in the evening, the members of the Cherkassy Jewish Community of Progressive Judaism, Haver, gathered together to celebrate the beginning of the new year.

(From  http://hesednewsen.ucoz.ua/news/rosh_hashanah_in_cherkassy/2012-09-20-34)

·        Websites' catalog: UA: Cherkassy: Jewish welfare fund "Hesed Dorot"

·        Database of jewish organizations: Cherkassy Jewish Welfare Center Hesed Dorot

·        http://www.jewnet.ru/i/arr.gifDatabase of jewish organizations: Cherkassy Community of Progressive Judaism Haver

 

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  • Last Modified: 02-17-2016

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