Religion & Beliefs

Tzedakah We Love: Yad L’Yad

Remember in the eighties when it was really trendy in the Jewish community to be deeply invested in the fate of Soviet Jews? There were all those rallies about letting them out, plus that awesome song, “We are leaving mother … Read More

By / December 30, 2007

Remember in the eighties when it was really trendy in the Jewish community to be deeply invested in the fate of Soviet Jews? There were all those rallies about letting them out, plus that awesome song, “We are leaving mother Russia” with the best chorus of all time: “When they come for us, we’ll be gone.” Take that, Communists! But then communism fell and we all decided to be obsessed with Israel and intermarriage and people pretty much stopped talking about Jews in Russia because it seemed like we brought them all here. But we didn’t, actually, and the ones still in Russia are pretty cash strapped and have very limited resources. Pretty much the only people still doing work there is Chabad, which is all well and good, but I, for one, am not comfortable with Chabad being the only kind of Jewish experience available to an enormous community, which is why I love the Yad L’Yad program. Yad L'Yad is a partnership program, which pairs synagogues and Jewish schools in the United States with Jewish communities throughout the Former Soviet Union. Participating synagogues and schools on both sides of the world benifit from the caring and personal Jewish relationships that grow through these partnerships. Here’s a blurb from their website:

U.S. partners provide humanitarian, cultural, spritual, educational, and financial support. What they get in return is impossible to measure. It includes gaining perspective a chance to perform mitzvot (commandments), to enrich their own lives through a sense of unity and to document and advocate against antisemitic incidents throughout the FSU on a personal level. For those in the former Soviet Union these partneships give much needed food, medicine and a chance to reclaim Jewish heritage and identity. Yad L'Yad provides food and medicine to the Jewish elderly, and supports Jewish education, religious life, and Jewish communal development. As an additional way for monitoring and advocacy efforts in regions far from UCSJ's existing human rights bureaus in Russia, Ukraine, the Caucasus, the Baltics, and Central Asia, these partnerships provide something else. They provide a chance to have a friend who can and will help. They provide a chance to speak and a chance to be heard. Through Yad L'Yad many are given a voice.

It sounds corny and everything, but I know a couple of minyanim (including my own) that have taken on a Yad L’Yad partnership and had a really awesome experience. Check out this website to see how it worked out for my parents’ minyan. Anyway, I encourage you or whatever group you’re a part of to get involved with Yad L’Yad, but if you don’t want to or can’t set up your own partnership, you can still donate to them. There’s a list of items on their website that you can contribute if you happen to have any lying around or have access to, or you can just give them some cash, which is always needed.