European Cold Snap Puts Needy Jews in Danger


(JTA) — Severe weather across Europe this week shut down airports and businesses, and made it much more difficult for needy Jews to get the food and financial assistance they require.

The unprecedented snow and low temperatures in places such as the Baltics, Bulgaria and Romania has required the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee to work harder than ever to get assistance to its clients in the countries of the former Soviet Union.

Jewish needy who would ordinarily travel to special heated canteens for meals and care have been homebound, in some cases for several weeks, requiring the organization to deliver extra food, medicine and space heaters to them.

In some cases, JDC has also had to provide extra stipends for high heating bills.

"Despite impenetrable weather and below-freezing temperatures, JDC provides these Jews – among the poorest in the world – with a desperately needed lifeline. With no other safety net and a total inability to obtain basic necessities, we’re making sure they feel some warmth, and hope, when they need it most," said JDC CEO Steven Schwager.

JDC provides aid to 2,800 cities throughout the former Soviet Union.