Battles in the East of Ukraine. Illustration
Battles in the East of Ukraine. IllustrationReuters

The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) is helping Ukrainian Jewry, its founder Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein announced Monday.

Eckstein said the organization will deliver a total of $650,000 in emergency aid to Jews living in combat zones in eastern Ukraine, especially in the cities of Donetsk, Mariupol and Luhansk.

The IFCJ is allocating the money to allow Jews of Eastern Ukraine to stock up on food, medicine, shelter, and secure themselves - as well as synagogues and Jewish institutions stuck in combat zones between the Ukrainian army and pro-Russian rebels.

"We will do all we can; no Jew will be left homeless or hungry," said Rabbi Eckstein. The donation should be enough to purchase thousands of packages of food and medicine, as well as three months of running soup kitchens and provide security to synagogues in cities where Jews reside in eastern Ukraine.

According to Rabbi Mendel Cohen, the Chabad-Lubavitch emissary in Mariupol over the past nine years, 7,000 Jews live in the city. However, he says that recently, many members of the Jewish community have been forced to leave the city due to the worsening fighting in the area.

In an interview with JTA, Cohen said that "the community will remain. However, the events of recent months will have a lasting impact on Jewish communities in the war zones. Communities are becoming smaller and smaller. A large part of the community members fled to Israel and will not come back. IFCJ aid is a lifeline for those who stayed here." 

Last year, the IFCJ provided funds for an estimated 20-25 million Jews living in the former Soviet Union, with half the amount transferred to the Jewish communities in Ukraine. The fund also helps Jews who wish to immigrate to Israel to do so. 

"Not everyone is ready to move to Israel," Rabbi Cohen said. "Some community members have family members who are unable to leave, while others are hoping to sell their home one day, in order not to leave Ukraine without anything."