Jewish Agency offering emergency help to Ukraine Jews

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Jewish Agency said it would offer immediate emergency assistance to the Jewish community of coup-ravaged Ukraine and help secure its institutions.

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky’s announcement on Saturday came hours after protests in the former Soviet republic forced President Viktor Yanukovych to flee Kiev and the parliament announced new presidential elections for late May. Dozens died in violent demonstrations leading to the coup.

Some 200,000 Jews live in Ukraine, mostly in the capital of Kiev, according to the Jewish Agency.

The Jewish Agency will help Ukraine through its Emergency Assistance Fund for Jewish Communities, which enables Jewish communities at risk to strengthen security measures.

Sharansky said in a statement that Ukraine is “one of the most vibrant Jewish communities in the world, with dozens of active Jewish organizations and institutions. Recent events have shown that we must strengthen these institutions’ security measures. We have a moral responsibility to ensure the safety and security of Ukraine’s Jews.”

He told Jewish Agency leaders on Saturday night that the organization is in “constant contact” with the Jewish leadership in Ukraine and is following events there closely.

Rabbi Moshe Reuven Azman, a Chabad rabbi in Ukraine, told Maariv that he advised his congregation to leave Kiev and the country, if possible. Azman closed the Jewish community’s schools in the capital due to the violence, the Israeli daily reported.

Azman also told the newspaper that the Israeli Embassy advised the members of the Jewish community to remain in their homes.

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