The Jewish Agency on Saturday said it would provide emergency assistance to Jews in Ukraine, in light of the political unrest wracking the country.
Jewish Agency chief Natan Sharansky said the organization would help secure Jewish institutions in the Eastern European country and launch a fundraiser to help increase security.
“Recent events have shown that we must strengthen these institutions’ security measures. We have a moral responsibility to ensure the safety and security of Ukraine’s Jews,” said Sharansky.
Earlier on Saturday, President Viktor Yanukovych fled Kiev after months of violent protests, and the Ukrainian parliament announced new presidential elections would be held in May.
Ukraine is home to an estimated 70,000 Jews.
Freed opposition leader and former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenka announced after her release from prison that she would run for the presidency.
Sharanksy said the Jewish Agency was following events in Ukraine and was in contact with the leadership of the Jewish community there.
“The Jewish Agency’s assistance aims to increase security at Jewish communal institutions in Ukraine,” he said.
A Jewish Agency spokesperson said it was not yet clear how much monetary aid would be provided to the Ukrainian Jewish community at this point.
The immediate financial assistance will come from the Jewish Agency’s Emergency Assistance Fund for Jewish Communities, which was established after the 2012 Toulouse shooting.
Misha Galperin, CEO of Jewish Agency International Development, said in a statement that the organization “was seeking to replenish the fund now in order to extend additional help to the Ukrainian Jewish communities and strengthen their safety and security measures.”
Ukraine has witnessed a spate of anti-Semitic attacks in recent months. Two Jewish men were attacked outside a synagogue in Kiev last month in separate incidents.
Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, said in January that Ukrainian government and opposition tolerance of anti-Semitic statements gave anti-Semites free reign to attack Jews. He called on the government to protect Ukrainian Jews and decisively quash anti-Semitism.
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