The Jewish children of Ukraine find themselves in a very perilous situation, both physically and spiritually. The upheaval that is affecting the goings on in that country is having a very detrimental effect on the Jewish population in general and on the children in particular. The flourishing of Jewish identity that has been increasing in Kiev, Odessa and other cities in the region in recent years has come under a lot of strain due to the political realities. Anti-Semitism is rampant — more than usual — as the unfortunate yet “natural” response of any political chaos is to blame the Jews and make their lives miserable. Rioting, robberies and even bodily harm has befallen our fellow Jews in the Ukraine in recent months.
The United Jewish Communities of Eastern Europe & Asia (UJCEEA), the organization that tirelessly works to care for and educate the Jews of that region has gone into overdrive to assure that the Jewish community — most importantly, the Jewish children are able to thrive despite what’s going on around them.
One of the chief ways to insulate the children from the difficulties they encounter is to ensure that they attend a summer camp, away from the hubbub of the city, away from the damaging environment of the chaos and away from the worrisome decline in Jewish life which so often is a result of their parents’ fear of participating in the community’s spiritual happenings during a time of strife.
Camp Shuva, the camp founded and run by UJCEEA, is a spiritual oasis, a fun and exciting full-fledged camp program that serves hundreds of Jewish children from across Ukraine. Many of the campers are orphans or come from broken homes. Not only do they enjoy a few weeks respite from the storm at home, they are inculcated during this summer experience with the tools and resources to remain strong in their Jewish identity. They are free to express their values and beliefs without fear of harassment from their anti-semitic peer group back home. Many of the children go on to become spiritual anchors of their families and communities. The short camp experience literally changes their lives, as well as those of their siblings, their extended families and their entire communities. Camp Shuva is a way for children to express their Jewish identity without fear and judgment.
Children who attend Camp Shuva, which is available at no cost to the parents, go on to study in mainstream Yeshivos in Europe, Eretz Yisroel and in the USA and have their entire lives — and the lives of their children after them — totally revamped due to the fact that they had the opportunity to attend Camp Shuva.
Who enables Camp Shuva to exist? Who sponsors the heavy cost of running such a vital camp in such a volatile region of the world? Who shoulders the burden of these, our dear brethren, in areas far from the comfort of our shores?
The answer is: Those who care! Fellow Jews, from America and around the world, do their part to respond to the plight of Ukraine Jewry. Jews who understand that the initiative launched by UJCEEA to send hundreds of Jewish children to what can literally be called “an experience of a lifetime” due to its powerful life-changing direction it encourages for virtually all who attend, are the ones saving these children. Summer camp is already underway, and many children are waiting to attend the August sessions.
Please mail any check donations to 421 7th Avenue, Suite 901 NY, NY 10001.
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Contact Person: Larisa Bykova
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City: New York
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