UCSJ Supports Ukrainian Refugees with Meals and More 

A few years ago, Woman Around Town published an interview with Lawrence I. Lerner, the president of the non-profit organization, Union for Councils for Jews in the Former Soviet Union (UCSJ).  Since 1970, UCSJ has been the voice of emigration, Jewish survival and human rights in countries that include Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia.  UCSJ recognizes that religious discrimination and xenophobia are connected with human rights abuses and the absence of the rule of law.  UCSJ helped form human rights organizations in areas of the former Soviet Union and is the unofficial representative of over 55 Pro-Democracy Human Rights, Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) in the region. 

Larry Lerner

Much of the work of UCSJ has been focused in Ukraine where they have an office in the city of Lviv. With the current crisis looming, UCSJ has stepped up much-needed humanitarian efforts to provide kosher meals and other services for refugees with their LVIV Relief Fund. Lerner, who now lives in New Providence, New Jersey, has visited the region innumerable times. He communicates regularly with the UCSJ office in Ukraine about the organization’s needs and commitments. He commented, “Feeding the poor, sheltering those in need, and providing medicaments to the sick and weary are God’s work.”

Lviv is a humanitarian corridor between Ukraine and Poland located just 55 miles from the western border of Ukraine. It is the main connection point for the refugees fleeing the war-torn country looking for a shelter in the west and to those who wish to return home from the west. The average number of the refugees in the city is about 250,000 to 300,000 daily. Over 120 free meals are being served each day and nearly 9,000 meals have been served since the start of UCSJ’s project. All food is cooked in the Jewish style with a regular menu and specially prepared diets for diabetics.

Meylakh Sheykhet, the UCSJ Director in Ukraine stated,  “The UCSJ project is exclusively important to show solidarity with the Ukrainians and unite all the world in its struggle to save peace among nations.  This is the only way we will unite the world for good. Vladimir Putin, with his anti humanitarian interests, has reunited all of us to understand that sick ideas and ideologies are destructive to mankind. UCSJ’s role is the role of a friend in need is a friend indeed.” 

Meylakh Sheykhet pointed out that Putin has decided to use the Jewish people as a propaganda tool. Putin accused the Ukrainian people of being Nazi collaborators, which of course is not true. Because of the Nazi’s ruthless plan, the Holocaust in Ukraine occurred. The Jewish People have lived in Ukraine for more than a thousand years and have created a unique spiritual and historical cultural heritage that would be impossible by Putin’s false accusations.

Sheykhet also added, “The sense of the Jewish path in life is to care about our neighbors. The Jewish tradition to help a person of another fate or faith is equal to bless Almighty. The Jews have always cared about their neighbors independently of the neighbor’s fate. UCSJ implemented this Jewish path in a brilliant way when it started the free meals for the refugees in Lviv along with assisting the refugees with free legal assistance, doctor appointments, medication, cloth, shelter, and laundry services. We do everything with dedicated staff, from giving the refugees attention to calming their stresses, and returning them the sense of life and dignity. This all is called the Jewish warmth with the highest level of love to everyone who is coming to our place.” 

UCSJ welcomes contributions from the general public to support the LVIV Relief Fund to assist refugees in Ukraine. For more information and to support the cause, please visit The Union for Councils for Jews in the Former Soviet Union at  http://www.ucsj.org/

Photo Credit: Photo of Lawrence I. Lerner courtesy of Lawrence I. Lerner. All others courtesy of UCSJ.

About Marina P. Kennedy (69 Articles)
Marina Kennedy began her writing career when her four children were grown and she returned to college to study in the humanities. She is delighted to be a contributor for Woman Around Town. The majority of her articles focus on the culinary scene, theatre, and travel. Marina and her husband Chuck enjoy the rich cultural experiences of the New York metro area and beyond. She hopes that readers like reading her articles as much as she enjoys writing them.