Activists gather in Kiev for interethnic tolerance


KIEV, Ukraine (JTA) — Activists from a leading Jewish women’s organization gathered in Kiev to build interethnic tolerance and civil society in Ukraine.

Leaders and activists of Project Kesher on Monday discussed the impact that its Not in Our Town program is having in the region and changes that have taken place this year in Ukrainian society. The Not in Our Town network provides tools for communities to prevent intolerance and provide solutions when hate crimes occur.

The activists spoke about the rise of xenophobia and the importance of developing a framework of interethnic and interfaith tolerance in Ukraine.

Project Kesher, a major Jewish women’s organization in the former Soviet Union, initiated the Not in Our Town program in the region. It includes leadership training, workshops, exhibitions, posters, educational programs and special creative events to educate the younger generations about tolerance.

Elena Kalnitzkaya, the Kesher director in Ukraine, told JTA that during 2007-08 the group worked with the All-Ukrainian Interethnic Women’s Confederation, which includes women of varying ethnic and religious groups, on a project to unite the activities of nongovernmental organizations and state bodies to counteract xenophobia, anti-Semitism, Nazism and hate violence with women of different ethnic groups and faiths.

Eleven cities and towns from throughout Ukraine participated in the project, supported by the Democracy Grants Program of the United States Embassy in Ukraine. The women expressed their hope to continue to develop the project in 2009.

Anzhela Mindel, the director of the Israeli Cultural Center in Kiev, said the center is ready to cooperate with Kesher and assist in project development in Ukraine.

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