While Federation aspires to be "One People, One Community," it cannot be everywhere. The organization relies on its trusted partners here in Greater Philadelphia, in Israel and the former Soviet Union to respond to critical human needs with programs and initiatives funded through our Federation annual campaign.
One such partner is the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, known as the JDC or "The Joint." The group's senior international relations executive, Sam Amiel, was in Philadelphia recently to update the community about how this agency is utilizing Federation's allocation of nearly $360,000 to sustain, support and nurture the more than 180,000 impoverished elderly Jews who live in the former Soviet Union.
Amiel described JDC's work in this region, home to the second largest Jewish community in the Diaspora, as "one of the largest Jewish humanitarian efforts since the Shoah." Agency outreach workers visit clients in their homes, providing food, medicine and the "critical human touch that is so critical to men and women who are often isolated and lonely," he said.
Through photos, Amiel introduced his audience to two of their clients, Irena and Malka. Irena is 83 and in poor health. She lives in a house with no indoor plumbing. Her only source of fresh water is a primitive gutter system. "In the coldest days of the Crimean winter, Irena must use an outhouse to take care of her personal needs," Amiel related.
Malka is a 71-year-old retired English teacher who simply cannot meet her monthly housing, food and medical costs on her government pension of $62 a month, plus an additional allotment of $4 a month for medicines.
"Even with the $42 a month that we provide to offset her food and pharmacy expenses, she still falls short,"Amiel said, adding "We can and must do more. We have a global responsibility to ensure the survival of everyone whose lives we touch."
Poverty in this region also impacts the lives of children, 28,000 of whom are being raised by single parents. Federation recently provided a $36,000 emergency grant to address their needs.
JDC has been a presence in the former Soviet Union for more than 20 years. However, it is only one of more than 70 nations across the globe where this — the world's largest Jewish humanitarian organization — effects local solutions to universal problems.
For more information about JDC's initiatives around the world, visit: www.jdc.org.