Ukraine Update #51: Donetsk, Mariupol, and Luhansk Jewish communities report

WASHINGTON, D.C. September 23, 2014

TO: NCSEJ Leadership and Interested Parties

FROM: Stephen M. Greenberg, NCSEJ Chairman;
Alexander Smukler, NCSEJ President;
Mark B. Levin, NCSEJ Executive Director


Ukraine Update #51


The ceasefire between the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian separatists continues to hold, despite unrest reported in some areas of Eastern and Southern Ukraine. During another round of negotiations in Minsk this past Saturday, both sides agreed to create a 19-mile buffer zone, to withdraw heavy weaponry, and to send foreign fighters home.

However, according to Ukrainian media reports, separatists and Russian troops made another attempt to gain ground last night in Southern Ukraine, near the strategic port of Mariupol, and were blocked by Ukrainian government troops. There are also reports of continued shelling in the city of Donetsk.

A third Russian humanitarian convoy entered Ukraine over the weekend, without permission from Ukrainian authorities. Russia continues to deny that it is supplying weaponry and troops to the separatists in Eastern and Southern Ukraine.

Meanwhile, the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine persists, with concerns growing as winter season approaches. According to Ukrainian state statistics, the number of refugees from the Donetsk and Luhansk regions has now reached 248,000. Also, more Ukrainian Jews are immigrating to Israel. According to the Jewish Agency for Israel, 4,200 Ukrainian Jews have made aliyah this year. Emigration to Israel has increased dramatically compared to 2013: from Odessa, by 371%; from Kharkiv, by 341%; from Dnipropetrovsk, by 263%; and from Simferopol, by 178%.

NCSEJ spoke today with the Jewish community of Donetsk. Community representatives said that some members of community will travel to Kyiv to celebrate Rosh Hashanah with Donetsk Rabbi Pinkhas Vyshetsky. Celebrations will be held in the city of Donetsk as well.

The Mariupol Jewish community reported that despite shelling in the city, Jewish community programs are continuing. A new academic year began in Mariupol Jewish evening school with lessons on Jewish tradition, dedicated to the upcoming holiday of Rosh Hashanah.

Electricity was finally restored this week in the "Beit Menachem" Jewish school in Luhansk. For the first time in many weeks, the schoolchildren had fresh challah for Shabbat. The Jews of Luhansk continue to celebrate Shabbat and attend shul. While water and electricity to the synagogue have been disrupted, Jews continue to gather there, where Jews in need are receiving medicine, food, and other assistance, as the community prepares for Rosh Hashanah celebrations.



Founded in 1971, NCSEJ represents the organized American Jewish community in monitoring and advocating on behalf of the estimated 1.5 million Jews in Eastern Europe and Eurasia, including the 15 successor states of the former Soviet Union. 
Phone: 202-898-2500 
NCSEJ is a beneficiary of The Jewish Federations of North America and the National Federation/Agency Alliance through its network of Federations. 
Like us on Facebook   Follow us on Twitter   View our videos on YouTube