The Jewish Community Federation of Richmond helps families with loved ones in Ukraine
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) — More than 30 years ago, the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond helped Ukrainian families escape religious persecution in the former Soviet Union, and now the organization is stepping up once more to help families in Ukraine.
“We weren’t allowed to visit a synagogue or even say we were Jewish at school because we were afraid of being persecuted,” said Ukraine-born Tatyana Manelis.
Manelis immigrated to Richmond at the age of 11 with the help of the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond.
She said that when she was a child in Odessa, she was not allowed to talk about her grandfather, who was Jewish, for fear of what would happen to their family.
When Russian troops crossed into Ukraine just three weeks ago, Manelis says it was an unfortunate moment of closure for her.
“It’s been on our minds 24/7 for the past two weeks,” Manelis said.
Manelis still has family and friends in Ukraine who are fighting for their country and fearing for their lives.
“If you’re a certain age, you stay and go fight,” Manelis said. “Moms are worried and the elderly don’t have the opportunity to go to the grocery store or to eat.”
After constant phone calls with her family still in Odessa, she says she did not know how to get help to her loved ones.
It was then that she again turned to the JCFR for help.
In just a few hours, the association got in touch with volunteers from its international organization to directly help his family.
“There was a car sent out for those who wanted to evacuate to help,” said JCFR CEO Daniel Staffenberg. “They [volunteers] delivered additional food and supplies to those who had to stay, and we now stay in regular contact with them.
It’s continued support that Tatyana says she can’t thank the organization enough for.
“This job, this incredibly dangerous job of being on the ground in a war zone, selflessly helping people, is beyond a miracle,” Manelis said.
The Jewish Community Federation of Richmond has created a fund to directly help Ukrainian efforts and those in situations like Manelis’ family.
So far the organization has raised over $200,000, if you would like to help the organization click here.
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