Helping our brethren in Ukraine


Like many of you, I have been glued to coverage of the war in Ukraine – in print, online and on TV.

Yes, I have my favorite media outlets. But I tend to flip from one to another during this kind of news-heavy event. It’s always good to see who is covering what and how. Each adds a new perspective.

As I’ve said before, information is power and the more you have, the better.

While I have never had the opportunity to visit Ukraine, I know many people who have. Everyone I know speaks warmly about the country. And, like me, many more trace their roots to Russia and Ukraine.

So the news coming out of Ukraine is personal for many of us – as well as being both horrifying and inspirational as Russia launches a deadly invasion on the democratic nation and Ukrainians mount a fierce resistance.

As with many world events, information coming from the Jewish media adds another important point of view to the conflict and its human toll.

Between the Jews who have loved ones in Ukraine and those whose roots are from Ukraine, many have a reason to watch the war quite carefully – and to want to help the estimated 200,000 to 350,000 Jews in the country, including 60,000 Jews in the capital of Kyiv and the nation’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky.

Here are a few things I’ve learned about efforts to help the Ukrainian Jewish community:

• The Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island has an emergency Ukraine fund. All money collected will go to emergency humanitarian efforts to help the nation’s Jewish community with such needs as food, housing and medicine. Through the Alliance’s association with Jewish Federations of North America, the funds support partner agencies on the ground, including JDC (The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee), The Jewish Agency for Israel, and World ORT. You can donate at Select Ukraine Relief from the drop-down menu.

• Jewish organizations from all areas are now working together. JAFI, JDC, World ORT, Chesed and Chabad are coming together because we are all one people.

• The American Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) workers are in the shelters and subways where Ukrainians are taking cover, helping Jews with basic needs and tracing relatives they have lost contact with.

• The Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) is preparing to help Jews who want to make aliyah as soon as they are able to do so. They are also gearing up to help Ukrainian Jews come to the United States if they have American relatives.

• An online channel has been set up to allow seniors to continue to observe Shabbat and to ensure people can maintain a Jewish connection.

 We have pulled together our own coverage on Ukraine, on pages 17 and 18 of this issue, including Aaron Ginsburg writing about comments on the situation made during services at Touro Synagogue, in Newport, on Feb. 26.

Meanwhile, because Jewish Rhode Island is a monthly newspaper, you will see a wide swatch of coverage in the March paper. Spring is on the way, and it’s Adar, the month of happiness, which culminates in Purim on March 17.

In other happy news, this month, on page 15, we debut a new comic strip Tobi and Zaide Tomer, featuring Tobi and her Israeli grandfather, Tomer. The artwork is by Brown University student Kendall Krantz and the story is by Amit Moshe Oren, Rhode Island’s Israeli shaliach (emissary). Stay tuned for their adventures each month.

And finally, still more good news: Our community institutions are opening up and programming is expanding! Check our calendar, either in the newspaper or the full listings online, at, for a wide range of events.

As we gather more often in the spring let's hope for for better days for our community at home and around the world.

Fran Ostendorf, Editor

editor's note, Ukraine