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Rabbi Eckstein of the IFCJ to Aids CIS Jews

MOSCOW, Russia [FJC] — The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) has announced the creation of a special 10.5 million dollar fund for the Jewish community in Russia and the CIS countries, which is aimed at supplementing social assistance system.

Currently, the numerous religious, social, educational and cultural programs in Jewish communities across the CIS are experiencing serious difficulties due reduced funding from organizations such as the ‘Joint’ American Distribution Committee and the ‘Sochnut’ Jewish Agency, as they had announced several months ago over diminished financing abilities in the CIS. There was great concern for the hundreds of thousands of Jews who require the social support that was provided by those organizations.

After Lev Leviev, the President of the Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS and the primary backer of Jewish educational projects in Russia and the CIS, learned that the State of Israel, the Jewish Agency and many other international charities would not be providing more than the amounts sufficient to ensure the continuance of Jewish community programs, he approached IFCJ President Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein to request aid in salvaging this system, so that Jews may receive the assistance they require – clothes, food, and other forms of aid.

Rabbi Eckstein accepted this request and created a special fund for Jews in Russia and the CIS estimated at 10.5 million dollars: 6.2 million dollars for social programs for children enrolled at Jewish educational institutions run under the auspices of the FJC Russia and 3.1 million dollars for the collaborative project with ‘Joint’, aimed at helping children from poor families and orphans. Another 0.9 million dollars will be earmarked for the ‘Heftsiba’ Jewish educational project.

Lev Leviev underlined that the IFCJ is now a primary organization funding social programs in more than 500 Jewish communities in the Former Soviet Union. The IFCJ’s Friendship Fund will finance the provision of hot meals, food parcels, warm clothes, blankets and medicine for the needy. It will operate through its offices in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

Lev Leviev thanked Rabbi Eckstein and promised that the FJC CIS and the Ohr Avner Foundation, which he heads, will make every effort to ensure needy Jews in those countries benefit from social programs. “The Fellowship Fund’s assistance came at a critical moment. The Jewish community in the CIS has fully felt the impact of the global financial crisis. The difficulties that we faced in the search for funding are enormous. Being familiar with the friendship as a charitable organization, I turned to Rabbi Eckstein. The Fellowship Fund is helping to support the work of the Ohr Avner Fund’s educational projects,” commented Leviev.

Rabbi Eckstein remarked, “The IFCJ is doing everything to help the Jewish people, Israel and the Diaspora. That is why I responded to the request from Lev Leviev, who is familiar with the needs of Jewish communities in these countries. I am convinced that the Fund’s support will strengthen and further the blossoming of Jewish life in the countries of the CIS.”

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