Tuesday, September 11, 2012

JDC Warm Home - Kiev

JDC Warm Home - Kiev

JDC's Warm Home program was established to help the elderly combat loneliness and isolation. For those unable to get to the center, the Hesed organizes regular meetings and snacks in small groups in the home of a host, selected from within the community.  The meetings provide the elderly with an opportunity to connect with their peers and have regular social interaction, thus battling feelings of seclusion.

We’re hosted at Inna’s home. There are 12 Warm Homes in Kiev.

TZILA was born in Kiev, has been coming for 6 years to the Warm Home, we talk, we share news. So happy to be here. I come every week, I wait all week to come here, to talk, to meet, my friends are here.
In the war they evacuated me to Samara (now), 1941-1946, with all the family. My father stayed in Kiev and we never saw him again, he was in the Army and was killed.

I wouldn’t live without Hesed. I can't imagine my life without Hesed. I also volunteer there. I help people there with vision problems/optical problems/blind, I help them take their prescriptions to get filled out, get eyeglasses, etc. I was born in 1925. What's my secret to long life? It comes from God and from kindness (Hesed). There’s no life without Hesed. Hesed found me through the synagogue. There were volunteers who were looking for Jews in the neighborhood, they invited me to come to the activities.

We hid the fact that we were Jews in Soviet times. I remember my grandmother speaking Yiddish and I still remember a little. I remember pesach seder: my grandma would prepare a seder plate, everything kosher for pesach. We got matza from the podol synagogue at 6 in the morning. It’s better now with democracy, but it’s also much more difficult. There were a lot of positive things in the Soviet Union – education, health. You can't negate what we had. Don’t forget that the Soviet Army beat the Nazis (and not you, the Americans). Even though the Jews did have problems in the Soviet Union.

GALA (sitting next to Amir) I come to the Warm Home because my family isn’t here, they're all in Russia. I was a Russian literature teacher. I met nice people here and they invited me to join two years ago, it’s nice and warm here, we talk, we discuss.

Hesed has performances and lectures, we also sing together. It lifts our spirits.

It was difficult to get into University as a Jew because of the 5th clause in my passport. But I managed to get in in the end. In Kiev you couldn’t study medicine if you were a Jew, but you could go to Moscow and study there, or in Uman (Ukraine).  Anti-Semitism was harder in Ukraine under the Soviets; you would feel it all the time from the media, from the regime, from the neighbors, with the schools and universities.

LIDYA white hair, white dress with flowers. My father was born in Odessa, mother in Cherkassy, aunt in Kiev. I worked in a research institute as a lecturer, I was sent to Kiev. I had a lot of other Jewish friends who told me about Hesed. My parents are Jewish. I’m not Jewish. Well, I am Jewish. I've been in the Hesed since 1995 and for six years in the Warm Home. I love it here. I'm still working.
Lidya works in food technology, yeast and baking products. She's also a dance instructor and participates in dance classes at Hesed.

ANNA is the host, yellow shirt. She's been a Hesed client since 2001. She came from Venitza, some 300km from Kiev. Her daughter helps her with the Warm Home. Anna ran a Warm Home in her previous village before coming to Kiev with 300 Jews there. She came to Kiev in 2001 and immediately found Hesed.

Anna fought in WW2 and has a disability pension, was a Red Army doctor in a military hospital on the front lines. Told us of a nighttime evacuation of all the wounded due to a Nazi advance, by foot. Shows us her medals on her jacket.

Why am I hosting a Warm Home? It’s good for me to be busy, I’m so proud because I set up the Warm Home. I want to do good. To help others. This is how I can help. It’s hard for me to go visit people who are sick, I can’t move as well as I used to – I’m 89. But this I can do. The secret of long life? Gala says it’s because Anna is kind therefore she lives long, because people love her and need her.
In the photos: Victor was her father, he was a pharmacist (in the suit). Her brother was a military doctor in the war, self-portrait, fought in the front. In those days, pharmacists would prepare all the ingredients of the prescriptions, so we learned from him about medicine.

We drink tea from their old family samovar. There’s a political discussion/argument about who actually won the war, was it the Americans or the Chinese or the Soviets? It’s a fun argument, everyone’s laughing and talking.  You can see how much they enjoy talking.  There's a whole discussion because Anna read somewhere that Israel is building a whole island off the coast of Tel Aviv. She's convinced it’s happening. 
What's happening with Israel’s neighbors?

We brought juice, fruit and cookies.

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