Below is a message received from Vitaliy Novikov, the director of elderly welfare programs at JDC’s Halom Jewish Community Center in Kyiv, written from in a bomb shelter.
“The most difficult thing is to explain to my 3-year-old daughter that war has begun, so I made up a fairytale. I told Polina that the shelling she hears is the sound of thunder, that sometimes the sky gets angry, and we must hide from it.”
“We’re not stopping our work. We are checking in on our clients and continuing our activities as much as possible at this most dangerous time. We’re explaining to them what to do in case something bad happens — how not to panic, how to save lives. I’m not panicking, but yes, I’m scared.”
“I’m very grateful to all the Jewish organizations in Ukraine and around the world for their support. I hope that sirens will never sound in your house, and I pray for peace for all people.”
Our JDC contact reports, “In the days following the invasion of Ukraine, I remain humbled and inspired by our brave colleagues on the ground — people like Vitaliy, who continue to work tirelessly to support the most vulnerable Jews, even as they face the impact of war themselves.
“I’ve received countless stories of incredible heroism and inspiration — homecare workers so devoted to their work that they are hunkering down with their clients through the curfews and the shelling, rather than with their own families; dozens of elderly joining a Zoom Shabbat service from their homes in besieged cities all across the country; one colleague — a single mother with a preteen daughter — making time to call the elderly Jews we serve from the underground parking garage where she’s been living for more than three days.”
“We’re not sure what the future holds, but we know we will continue to be there — no matter what. At this critical time, we’re committed to the uninterrupted provision of food, medicine, and other emergency support: a lifeline to tens of thousands of Jews in over 1,000 locations across Ukraine.”