Action-PSJ

Thank you and Ukraine Update

Friends,Together we help the communities, partner programs, and the thousands of people we impact in Ukraine, not only survive the war but survive

A message from Debbie

Thank you for your generosity, continued partnership, and support of Action-PSJ’s work. Friends, I’m writing to let you know about

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In the gentle aura of Judy Patkin’s resounding legacy, we invite you to illuminate her enduring impact by contributing to the cause deeply interwoven with her spirit for 45 glowing years at Action for Soviet/Post-Soviet Jewry (APSJ). As we approach Judy’s 85th birthday and unfold the tribute of her spectacular journey, let’s fortify her immeasurable impact and ensure her compassionate mission continues to thrive and nourish isolated and elderly Jews in the former Soviet Union.

Your heartfelt contribution to APSJ in Judy’s name will not only serve as a beautiful ode to her devotion but will energetically bolster key initiatives:

Adopt-a-Bubbe & Zayde: 

Providing deeply personalized aid, reaching out to thousands across over 20 cities

Warm Houses: 

Fostering intimate gatherings for nourishment, connection, and the sweet kinship of shared Jewish roots, uniting thousands of isolated elders across Ukraine

Judy’s mission ignited in times shadowed by pogroms, purges, and persistent anti-Semitism, shines ever-bright in APSJ’s ongoing endeavors. With your generous assistance, her unwavering care for the elderly and isolated will permeate through generations, maintaining a sanctuary of support and connection.

Your Impact:

Visionary: $10,000 & Beyond

Sustainer: Up to $5,000

Advocate: Up to $1,800

Enthusiast: Up to $500

Friend: Up to $180

Expressing Our Gratitude | Donor Recognition

Every benefactor will be warmly recognized in the Digital Tribute Journal and on our event page. Visionaries will also be specially acknowledged during the event as we weave your generous spirit into the tapestry of Judy’s honored legacy.

In the spirit of unity and commitment that marks our community, we are thrilled to shine a spotlight on Dr. Sarah Abramson, Senior Vice President for Strategy and Impact at the Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP). Sarah is a paragon of compassion and advocacy whose career mirrors her deeply rooted commitment to serving those in need.

Sarah’s remarkable journey began across the pond, where she amplified the voices of British Jews with the UK Government as a Senior Policy Researcher for the Jewish Policy Institute and as a representative at the Board of Deputies of British Jews. Her endeavors in London speak volumes about her dedication to advocacy and dialogue.

As we trace her steps back to Boston, Sarah’s transformative leadership at Yad Chessed brought light and hope to many. Her role as the first professional Executive Director propelled the organization from a humble entity to a bastion of support, disbursing over $1.4 million in vital aid to the local community.

After joining the CJP family in 2015, Sarah’s ascent to Senior Vice President by 2017 reflects her capability and steadfast devotion to the Jewish community. Her leadership continues to weave a tapestry of strategy and impact that resonates throughout the organization.

Academically, Sarah’s accolades speak to a keen mind dedicated to understanding and addressing societal nuances. A proud graduate of Wesleyan University, she traversed academic avenues at the London School of Economics, earning dual master’s degrees and achieving a PhD in Sociology. Her lauded and award-winning research spans critical topics from domestic violence to economic challenges, blending academic rigor with actionable advocacy.

Her contributions extend to the realm of holistic care, illustrated by her instrumental role as a chief consultant for an innovative independent living facility for Holocaust survivors in London. Every facet of Sarah’s career reflects a beautiful symmetry of knowledge and heart.

Enriching her life in Sudbury, Sarah is embraced by the love and support of her husband, Steven, and their two beloved children, Amelia and Henry.

We invite you to immerse yourself in the wisdom, compassion, and community spirit embodied by Dr. Sarah Abramson as we honor a journey that intertwines scholarly excellence with boundless heart and advocacy. Let’s celebrate a leader whose roots in community and academia forge a path of meaningful impact and tender compassion in our ever-evolving world.

Dive deeper with Joshua Rubenstein, a beacon illuminating the intricate tapestry of history, advocacy, and academic excellence.

In the esteemed halls of Harvard’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Joshua has long been a cherished associate, enriching the academic sphere with his invaluable expertise and also serving with distinction as the Associate Director for Major Gifts at Harvard Law School.

His journey with Amnesty International USA spanned 37 impactful years, where, as the Northeast Regional Director, he became a potent force for human rights and justice on a global stage.

A scribe of history and narratives, Joshua has penned monumental works that traverse various epochs and narratives. His pioneering book, “Soviet Dissidents: Their Struggle for Human Rights,” forged a path to understanding the Soviet dissident movement.

His exploration into the layered life of Soviet-Jewish writer Ilya Ehrenburg in “Tangled Loyalties” and the revealing “Stalin’s Secret Pogrom: The Postwar Inquisition of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee,” which accorded him a National Jewish Book Award, underscore his adept storytelling and profound research capabilities.

As the curator and editor of critical works, including “The KGB File of Andrei Sakharov” and “The Unknown Black Book: The Holocaust in the German-Occupied Soviet Territories,” Joshua has provided indispensable resources to scholars and readers alike.

With his interpretive biography of Leon Trotsky and his latest masterpiece, “The Last Days of Stalin,” set to grace shelves in various languages, he continues to weave historical narratives with finesse and depth.

We await, with bated breath, the wisdom and reflections Joshua Rubenstein will share at our event, immersing us into the depths of his storied and impactful career and echoing our commitment to preserving and understanding our rich, collective history.

Meet Ella Goncharova, not only as a pivotal figure in sustaining and nurturing cultural and Jewish life in Dnipro, Ukraine, but also as a warm-hearted community member, mother, and grandmother. Her journey, deeply rooted in Dnipro and blossoming from her academic tenure at Dnepropetrovsk State University, spans over three and a half enriching decades. Ella has carved out a compassionate pathway from her role as the artistic deputy director at the Shinnik Cultural and Sports Complex of Dneproshina OJSC to embarking on initiatives that hold the community’s spirit aloft, such as her impactful involvement in Project Kesher.

Between 1996 and 2016, Ella not only held the directorial reins at the Sunday Jewish School at the Israeli Cultural Center (Embassy of the State of Israel in Ukraine) but also breathed life into the Business Club of the Israel Cultural Center and steered the Young Leaders and the Talmud Torah project with unwavering dedication. Her commitment cascaded into other realms, ensuring enriched experiences for generations, as seen in her role as a coordinator for economic and legal literacy projects and “Lador va Dor – The Power of Generations.”

In her journey with Project Kesher, she leads the “Mom-to-Mom” program with a kind, steady hand, showcasing her ceaseless endeavor to fortify her community through generations. Ella is not merely a catalyst for positive change and a reservoir of dedication. She is also a nurturing mother of two and a doting grandmother of four, embedding her warmth into every initiative and interaction.

Join us in celebrating and drawing inspiration from Ella’s story as we weave her rich tapestry of dedication, leadership, and maternal warmth into our gathering, further illuminating our path forward.

Brad Rothschild artfully interweaves his manifold talents as a director, producer, and writer, all while wielding a sturdy business acumen. His harmonious blend of imaginative vigor and strategic insight has shaped his distinct and impactful journey in film and the written word.

Brad’s educational endeavors have armed him with a Master’s in International Affairs and an MBA from the distinguished Columbia University. This fusion of business savvy and International comprehension enables him to craft narratives with a keen understanding of global contexts.

In the realm of cinematic storytelling, Brad has become a significant figure, primarily notable for his documentary “Kinderblock 66: Return to Buchenwald.” This impactful piece has not only traversed the globe, being featured at myriad festivals, including the reputable Jerusalem Film Festival but also transitioned to a theatrical release in 2013, bearing witness to its powerful resonance. His directorial ventures also spotlight critical issues and human stories, as seen in “African Exodus” and “Tree Man,” with the latter being honored with the Audience Award at the St. Lawrence International Film Festival.

Simultaneously, Brad’s narrative mastery has illuminated the pages of esteemed publications such as The Atlantic, Foreign Policy, and The Huffington Post, manifesting his ability to enchant audiences both on screen and in print.

With his narrative dexterity profoundly rooted in both the cinematic and literary worlds, Brad Rothschild emerges not merely as a filmmaker or writer but as a versatile and esteemed storyteller with a global perspective.

Liliana Glik, emanating from the musical roots of Lithuania, transcends the role of a vocalist to become a poignant performer and steward of Jewish folk music, blending Yiddish and Hebrew traditions with a myriad of international melodies. Her musical expressions weave through languages such as English, Russian, French, Armenian, Georgian, and Ukrainian, uniting diverse cultural echoes in a harmonious journey shared with global audiences.

Her journey into the realms of music began in the harmonious environment of her childhood, nurtured within a family rich in musical tradition. Liliana honed her skills at the esteemed National Music Academy and the Vilnius Conservatory in Lithuania, focusing her studies on vocal mastery and choir conducting, thereby ingraining herself in a rich tapestry of melodic education.

Liliana’s career, adorned with international performances, spans from the former Soviet Union to various world stages, each performance imbued with her unique ability to touch souls with her melodic gift. Recognized with a Silver Medal and a “Fan-favorite” award at the Jewish Music Festival in Kharkiv, Ukraine, since 1991, her talents have been widely acknowledged and celebrated.

Embracing Boston, Massachusetts, as her home, Liliana illuminates the stage as a soloist at the Jewish Musical Theater “Firelech,” continuing to be a resonant voice that bridges cultures and traditions. Her work remains a melodious ambassadorship, preserving and celebrating Jewish and global musical traditions and ensuring they echo through generations with vibrant life and energy.

From the three-sprouting age, Stanislav Antonevich warmly enveloped in our community as Stan has tenderly cradled the violin, crafting melodies that intertwine with our hearts and souls. His journey, gracefully oscillating between the vibrant resonance of orchestral ensembles and the intimate whispers of solo performances, speaks to his versatile virtuosity and unwavering dedication to the musical arts.

Embracing an academic path illuminated by accolades, Stan holds cherished Master’s Degrees in classical and jazz violin performances, further enriched with an Artist Diploma in Solo Performance from the distinguished Longy School of Music. His youthful triumph of securing the coveted first prize at the International Dvarionas Competition in Vilnius, Lithuania, at merely sixteen echoes through his ongoing musical narrative, woven with accolades from various international arenas.

Stan’s musical tapestry extends across landscapes, having gently held the mantle of concertmaster in multiple symphony orchestras within the lively melodies of Massachusetts and beyond. He intertwines his expertise and leadership within the Massachusetts Symphony Orchestra, honoring both concertmaster and assistant concertmaster roles.

With a heart that beats harmoniously with his strings, Stan infuses his performances with soulful interpretations, gracefully bowing notes that linger in enraptured air. His mentorship extends this melody to the eager ears and fingers of burgeoning musicians, sharing his technical wisdom and the gentle spirit of his musical approach.

Through each note and lesson, Stan perpetuates a legacy that intertwines melodic mastery with nurturing the seeds of future musical blooms, ensuring the continuance of heartfelt, expressive musical narratives for generations to come.

Igor Schupak stands as a beacon in the exploration and commemoration of Holocaust studies, imbuing the scholarly world with his insightful contributions and steadfast dedication. His leadership role as the Director of the “Museum of Jewish Memory and the Holocaust in Ukraine” and the “Tkuma” Ukrainian Institute for Holocaust Studies is cemented with an unwavering commitment to revealing, understanding, and preserving the past.

With an academic foundation honed with distinction at the Zaporizhzhia State Pedagogical Institute and further polished through intensive Jewish history studies stretching from Moscow to Jerusalem, Igor has carved out a space where historical dialogue breathes and thrives. His defenses of dissertations in 1995 and 2002 at Zaporizhzhia State University and the University of Toronto underline his rigorous pursuit of historical understanding [1].

Since his installation as director at the “Tkuma” Ukrainian Institute in 1999, Igor has meticulously woven his role into the tapestry of the institute’s mission, fostering a space where history is not only studied but also felt. The “Museum of Jewish Memory and History of the Holocaust in Ukraine” in Dnipro, which he co-founded in 2012, is a testament to his devotion and vision.

Igor’s involvement in international dialogues and his membership in committees and boards, like the Ukrainian-German Historical Committee and the Editorial Board of the Institute for Euro-Asian Jewish Studies, reflect his universal appeal and respect in the historical and academic community [2].

His academic endeavors envelop the dark yet vital history of the Holocaust and elevate the stories of the “righteous” of varied nationalities. Igor’s scholarly signature can be found on over 180 academic pieces published across multiple nations. His influence on educational materials, as evidenced by his authorship of 20+ history textbooks for Ukrainian secondary schools, reverberates in classrooms across Ukraine, with his works recommended by the Ministry of Education and Science and achieving a circulation exceeding a staggering one million copies.

The blend of Igor’s profound academic pursuits and his heartfelt commitment to preserving and sharing the histories and memories of those impacted by the Holocaust illustrates a journey both illuminative and inspirational. His dedication resonates deeply, echoing the very ethos of historical preservation and education that defines our endeavors.

Embarking on heartfelt journeys through the tapestry of Yiddish history and culture, Anna Shternshis, esteemed as the Al and Malka Green Professor of Yiddish Studies and the diligent director at the Anne Tanenbaum Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto, gracefully melds academia and soulful exploration.

With a doctoral degree gleaned from the esteemed University of Oxford in 2001, Anna has bestowed upon the world insightful treasures, including her seminal works “Soviet and Kosher: Jewish Popular Culture in the Soviet Union, 1923-1939” and “When Sonia Met Boris: An Oral History of Jewish Life under Stalin.”

Anna’s spirit takes flight beyond textual realms, co-creating the Grammy-nominated Yiddish Glory project alongside artist Psoy Korolenko, tenderly reviving Yiddish melodies once lost to the despair of the Holocaust in the Soviet Union.

Graced with the honor of the Guggenheim Fellowship in 2020, Anna now entwines her scholarly and emotive threads into her upcoming exploration, “Last Yiddish Heroes: A Lost and Found Archive of the Holocaust in the Soviet Union,” promising to uncover the poignant narratives of Yiddish music gently birthed amidst the shadows of Nazi-occupied Ukraine.

In Anna’s endeavors, we witness a gentle kindling of the past, where the melodies and stories of Yiddish culture are cradled and given breath in the present, allowing the echoes of history to resound with life, sorrow, and endurance into our collective future.

With a heart rooted in the rich history of Leningrad and branches that extend into a world of diplomatic service, Daniel Agranov intertwines a decade-plus journey of invaluable Foreign Service with a warm, familial tapestry back in Israel. His pathway through the corridors of international diplomacy, beginning in 2008 within Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has gracefully weaved through diverse landscapes, including the vibrant cultures of Europe, the vast expanses of Asia, and the rich terrains of Africa.

Embarking on his initial overseas odyssey in 2009 at the Embassy of Israel in Angola, Daniel further extended his diplomatic roots to Kazakhstan in 2010, each step marking a gentle imprint of his dedication. The threads of his journey subsequently led him to St. Petersburg in 2011, where he not only embraced the role of Deputy Head of Mission but also tenderly nurtured the historic establishment of the first Israeli Consulate in Russia.

The U.S. became the next chapter of his diplomatic tapestry in 2014, where he warmly served as Deputy Consul General of Israel in Houston. His accomplishments, woven with dedication and skill, illuminated his path back to Israel in 2017, guiding him into a significant role dedicated to combating antisemitism and cherishing Holocaust remembrance at the Ministry.

Daniel, who migrated with his family from Leningrad, USSR, to Aliya, Israel, at the tender age of eleven, intertwines his rich educational threads, boasting a bachelor’s degree in economics and biology and a Master’s in Business Administration in Finance and Marketing, all garnered from the esteemed Hebrew University in Jerusalem, into his multifaceted life.

In the comforting embrace of personal life, he and his wife, Nurit, weave a nurturing environment for their three daughters and two sons, crafting a vibrant, loving space where memories are cherished and futures are cultivated with care.

We are humbled to share a moving letter from Irina L. of Melitopol, which reverberates the gratitude and emotions felt by numerous beneficiaries. Paired with visual narratives from the initial packing stages to the heartfelt smiles upon receipt of the supplies, Irina’s words harmonize poignantly with APSJ’s core ethos. It is a poignant reminder that unity and mutual support don’t just provide for physical needs but weave an unbreakable bond of hope and understanding across continents.

  • United for Change: Stand with Eastern Europe
  • Unity and Resilience: Standing Together with Eastern Europe

 

As the waves of COVID-19 swell in Eastern Europe, particularly Ukraine, immediate and decisive support becomes indispensable. Our impending shipment is set to convey vital supplies – which have, at times, been elusive – but also carry forth messages of steadfast unity and compassion from afar.

Participants of the APSJ Adopt-a-Bubbe/Zayde program, who diligently remain in isolation, perceive these doorstep deliveries as more than just items; they are a shield against the unrelenting grasp of COVID-19, especially amidst the economic challenges and inflating prices.

Constantly evolving, APSJ persistently recalibrates our efforts to adequately address our communities’ emergent needs.

Included in Each Care Package:

  • Acetaminophen
  • Multi-Vitamins
  • Sugar Packets
  • Dried Soup Mixes
  • Hand Soap
  • Protective Gloves
  • Essential Cleaning Supplies
  • Sanitizer

 

Your generous contribution to the COVID-19 emergency fund fuels these efforts. With profound gratitude, we say thank you.

Donate for Lasting Change

Help Us Help Others: Donate Today for a Brighter Tomorrow

We have done so much, but there is much more to do! Amidst the war and challenging circumstances, your support ensures the survival of Ukrainian bubbes, zaydes, and youth, bringing warmth, comfort, and, most importantly, hope

Debbie Kardon

As I transition into the role of the first full-time Executive Director of Action-PSJ, I am humbled by the trust placed in me to lead this incredible organization and carry forward the legacy of our founding Executive Director, Judy Patkin. Building upon the experiences and knowledge gained while working alongside Judy, I am excited to embark on this new chapter in Action-PSJ’s journey.

I am deeply committed to upholding the values and principles that have guided our organization since its inception. Judy’s mentorship has instilled in me a strong belief in putting relationships and the unique needs of aging adults at the forefront of our mission. As the first full-time Executive Director, I am dedicated to nurturing these values, fostering a culture of empathy, and ensuring that our beneficiaries receive the highest level of care and support.

My vision for Action-PSJ goes beyond sustaining our current efforts. While honoring the past, I am eager to lead the organization into a future that embraces innovation, growth, and impact. I am passionate about exploring new opportunities to enhance the health and well-being of those we serve, seeking partnerships and collaborations to amplify our reach and effectiveness.

As we navigate the challenges and opportunities of the changing healthcare and social services landscape, I am committed to leading Action-PSJ with an open mind and a willingness to adapt. Together with our dedicated team, I am determined to stay at the forefront of best practices and research, continuously seeking ways to elevate the quality and relevance of our programs.

While we evolve and innovate, we will always maintain the importance of connecting to the Jewish community, tradition, and history. These ties hold significant meaning for our beneficiaries, and I am resolute in preserving and nurturing these cultural connections that enrich their lives.

I am grateful for the support of our board, staff, volunteers, and stakeholders as we embark on this journey together. With their dedication and the lessons learned from Judy’s exemplary leadership, I am confident that we will continue to make a meaningful difference in the lives of aging adults and adults with disabilities in the communities we serve in Ukraine.

As I step into the first full-time Executive Director of Action-PSJ role, I do so with deep respect for our organization’s history and a passionate commitment to its future. Together, we will honor Judy Patkin’s legacy while propelling Action-PSJ to even greater heights of impact and service.

Sincerely,

Judy Patkin

After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Action for Post-Soviet Jewry (APSJ) began its work in Ukraine. APSJ’s first trip to Dnipropetrovsk was in 1993, the year after the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) decided to partner with the Jewish community there as part of the Kehillah Project of the National Conference for Soviet Jews.

We met Rabbi Shmuel and Chany Kaminezki, who represented the Jewish organization, and began to meet other Jews who lived in Dnipropetrovsk. There were around 70,000 Jews in the city, and few had emigrated because the city was “closed” during Soviet times due to

the manufacture of ballistic missiles. The city was heavily involved in manufacturing, as seen by the black smoke rising from factories on both sides of the Dniepr River.

At this point, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (the Joint) did not have an office there. The JCRC and APSJ encouraged the Jewish community to organize under a secular leader, a prerequisite to receiving aid from the Joint. Within a few years, the Joint opened an office and supplied a Jewish library with items like canes, walkers, wheelchairs for invalids, and eventually food packages. Rabbi Kaminezki worked out of the only functioning synagogue, a small, crumbling building used in the early 1900s by the famous Rabbi Yitzhak Schneerson until he was arrested and died in exile.

APSJ began to work with a woman who had held a position in the city’s welfare office and had a list of those in need. On Rosh Hashanah, we supplied apples and cheese for the person who made a weekly milk and bread run for the poorest in the Jewish community. It soon became clear that the poorest were the pensioners and the disabled, who had woefully inadequate pensions. In time, Rabbi Kaminezki’s efforts at providing for the Dnipro Jewish community improved, and the Joint became more active.

Under the guidance of Yan and Tanya Sidelkovsky, APSJ looked to assist other nearby Jewish communities with no rabbi but with many people who needed help with food, clothing, and other necessities. As word of our Adopt-a-Bubbe or Zayde program spread, we added Jewish communities further away.

APSJ now works in over a dozen cities in Ukraine, including Cherkasy, Berdyansk, Dnipro (formerly Dnipropetrovsk), Kamenskoe (formerly Dniprodzerzhinsk), Kharkiv, Kirovograd, Kryvyi Rih, Lubny, Mariupol, Melitoppol, Novomoskovsk, Pavlograd, Poltava, Smela, Uman, Vinnytsia, and Zvenogorodka. Each Jewish community has a coordinator who works with APSJ to identify those most in need, ask them what they need, and purchase and deliver the items. The requests grew from less than 100 pensioners to around 1,500. And requests that used to be met with $5 now require close to $20.

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