The heart of Hesed is the library. There are 15,000 books. As we walk in to the building, the “Savlanut” choir of older volunteers sings “Shalom Aleichem.” They practice several times a week, for the past eight years. They appear in concert all over the Jewish community and the wider city events.
We meet with Inessa Chugainoa, the Hesed Director; we visit the elderly in the
the Literature Club, and see a beautiful photo exhibition. Day Center
Hesed has 1500 clients in Almaty; all the work is done by 100 volunteers. As we come into the main (tiny) hallway, they're busy packing food packages for the homebound elderly.
Svetlana (pink, in the center) is the volunteer director of programming.
The group is reading a Danielle Steel book, “Echoes” about the Shoah; we spend some time discussing its themes and meanings, what can they learn from it. Svetlana summarizes the book for us and says how grateful the group is to the author for writing this story.
We live longer because of the day center, Svetlana says. Everyone here is from
No one was born in Russia .
All were War refugees … but we’re not lonely here. Kazakhstan
In the second room there's a photo exhibit run by the youth – with some terrific photos. Sasha and Nataliya are in charge of the exhibit. Their hobby is photography and they initiated this idea; they decided to go round taking photos of the community, because they see the community as their family, then the idea widened to others in the community, then outside Almaty, then international to other countries. It’s incredibly inspiring. You talk to these terrific young women and see the spark of Jewish community continuing.
Ludmilla (purple shirt with
red hair) greets us, she was born in .
“We came here, we couldn’t go back. Everything was destroyed. We ran, ran, ran
for three years. Here it was better. We built a life here. “ Dnepropetrovsk
That’s what they did. They built a life here.