A year into the Ukrainian conflict, the Orthodox Union (OU) and its partners are supplying Ukraine’s 21,000 remaining Jews with food, other basic necessities and additional treats for Passover and beyond.
Since the war began, the OU has provided more than $5 million in food to Ukraine’s Jews and has helped to secure and distribute generators to more than 30 communities to supply heat and electricity over the winter.
The procurement and distribution were done in partnership with the Federated Jewish Communities of the Former Soviet Union (FSU) — an association of Chabad emissaries that services tens of thousands of Jews across over 40 communities — and the Shema Yisroel Education Network of communities remaining in Bucharest, Lviv, Kyiv, Uman, Zaporozhyia and others. Shema Yisroel supports 45-plus communal institutions in the FSU including schools, orphanages, synagogues, kollels (institutes of advanced Torah study) and mikvahs (baths used for ritual immersions).
In order to ensure that Ukrainian Jews have all of the provisions they need to celebrate Passover — including ample matzah and wine for the seders and the rest of the week — the partners have fundraised $350,000 to date as part of an ongoing campaign. The funds will be added to a $250,000 grant from UJA Federation.
The OU already has sent:
*More than 4,400 pounds of handmade shmurah matzah (matzah made from wheat which is guarded from the time that it is harvested)
*12,000 bottles of grape juice
The OU has helped raise funds for the purchase of:
*8,000 additional gallons of grape juice
*about 110,000 additional boxes of matzah
*55 tons of meat and chicken
*about 500,000 pounds of vegetables
*a varied selection of kosher for Passover products including oil, sugar, salt, lemon juice, vinegar, canned pickles and olives, gefilte fish, tuna, jams, chocolate spread, cakes, chocolate, cocoa powder, tea, potato starch, spices, chips and soup nuts, and items such as aluminum foil and candles.
In addition, the OU is shipping 1,000 toys to give to children during the seders — for finding the afikoman (a portion of matzah hidden for children to find during the seder).
The majority of goods were purchased in the EU, London and Israel. Supplies will be delivered to warehouses in Bucharest, Kyiv, Lviv and Uman. The OU’s Chabad partners will oversee their distribution to both the Chabad and Shema Yisroel communities. To date, 10,500 attendees have signed up to participate in one of 94 communal Passover seders in Ukraine, run by Chabad emissaries.
OU Executive Committee Board Member and Chair of OU’s Community Projects and Partnerships Department Zevy Wolman stated: “At the beginning of the war, our community was understandably shaken and acted in an incredibly generous way to assist with rescue, food provision and other needed funds. Unfortunately, human nature dictates that as a problem drags on, even though the situation is equally, if not more, acute now than it was then, the urgency of the situation wears off. That is why the commitment of the OU leadership to support the incredibly dedicated individuals on the ground that are taking care of their communities is so critical.”
National Director of OU's Community Projects and Partnerships Rabbi Simon Taylor stated: "We are so grateful to OU supporters who have opened their hearts to assist the Jews of Ukraine this Pesach. We hope and pray that this will be the last time they will be celebrating Pesach under these challenging circumstances."