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Ukraine’s Next Generation of Jews Gives Back to the Community

Federation is helping young adults in Ukraine pursue leadership roles in the Jewish community. Through Metsuda, a year-long young leadership course offered by Federation’s overseas partners, the America Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), this next generation of Ukrainian Jews is learning the power of tzedakah and tikkun olam, while harnessing the power of their creativity and community-organizing skills. Metsuda has nearly 300 alumni, with 25 new leaders graduating each year. There’s even Post-Metsuda, an informal alumni network that organizes everything from Shavuot retreats in the countryside to Kickstarter-style fundraisers for friends struggling to pay for unexpected medical care.

Following his year with Metsuda, Konstantin Kuznetzov, was inspired to start Volunteer Platform, an initiative he coordinates in Kharkov that aims to professionalize the city’s sizable volunteer corps of passionate Jewish teens and 20-somethings. One project nurtured by Volunteer Platform provides birthday celebrations for poor children with special needs or children from families at risk. Another project, Paint a Fairytale, brings in young Kharkov Jews to read children’s books to kids, and then help them to brainstorm and illustrate their own fantastical stories. The volunteers then print the books, which often have Jewish themes, and deliver them to the budding authors.

Konstantin said his Jewish identity is now inextricably linked to volunteerism. What Metsuda first sparked, Volunteer Platform has solidified — and now, nascent community service projects can receive constructive feedback and support. “Metsuda gave my life Jewish content — and now I find in the Jewish community a sense of support, of feeling united together,” he said.

Your Federation donation helps fund this program and others organized by our overseas partner agency, JDC. To ensure their success and survival, please consider making a donation to the Annual Campaign here. To learn about other ways your donation helps Jews in Miami, in Israel and around the world, click here.

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