It’s nice to share with you something that about the Ukraine that doesn’t involve impeachment.
I recently attended the Tikva America Gala. It was truly amazing to learn so much from those working directly with the present and future generations of Jews living in the area considered one of the most important in Jewish history. Jews have had roots there for over one thousand years. At its height, during the 1920s, almost three million Jews lived and many thrived in Ukraine. During the Holocaust, close to million Jews were murdered were from the Ukraine. In 2012, it was estimated that Ukraine had the fifth-largest Jewish community in Europe and the twelfth-largest Jewish community in the world. The Baal Shem Tov and Chasidic Judaism as hits roots there, as well as Steven Spielberg, Roseann Barr, Golda Meir and Sheldon Adelson.
Why the history lesson? Because not enough of us know about our roots. Our schools, including yeshivas, don’t teach about the Ukrainian Jewish past. Many don’t know about the growing community.
Which is why Tikva, which translates into hope in Hebrew — for us the American division — is so important.
Tikva’s core mission is to care for the homeless, abandoned and abused Jewish children of Odessa and neighboring regions of the Former Soviet Union. It’s helping rebuild the once Jewish community while supporting many of the Jews living there today who are struggling to make ends meet.
Together, members have helped rebuild Jewish identity ruined by the persecution and communist rule that has constrained the community for decades. Through Tikva’s educational programs and rescue aid, they continue to save Jewish orphans, help to rebuild neighborhoods, educate the Jewish youth, and create a brighter future full of possibilities and the ability to fulfill their dreams.
Over 300 of TiKVA’s supporters, including Former New York Governor David Patterson, Former NYPD Chief Bernard Kerik, Ambassador Danny Danon, Former Real Housewives Of New York Star, Heather Thomson and fashion designers Shani Grosz and Ramy Brook paid tribute to the organization. In addition, former Tivka honoree, Sylvester Stallone, sent support via a video.
TIKVA honored Academy Award Winner JON VOIGHT, a dedicated Jewish philanthropist and activist. Voight spoke of the relationship he has shared through the years with great admiration for the Jewish people. MODI entertained with his hilarious comedy routine. Opera singer, David Serero, was the emcee of the gala.
Tikva also honored the memory of a dear friend and supporters of organization many years, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews,
TIKVA was founded over 20 years ago when Rabbi Shlomo Baksht was sent from Israel to revitalize Odessa’s Jewish community and confronted a situation much greater than the religiously marginalized population. He was urgently moved to action by the crisis of homeless and abused Jewish children.
Board Chairman Ed Frankel, founder of Vitaquest International, West Caldwell, NJ together with his wife, Leah, and his son Keith was one of the earliest American donors to visit Odessa and became enchanted by the children and the cause. Joined by TIKVA founder and president Seth Gerzberg and a dedicated group of their friends, what began solely as a mission devoted to education led to the birth of TiKVA Children’s Home.
“Who would have believed there were homeless Jewish children?” asks TIKVA CEO Refael Kruskal. “It’s a story that must be told.”
TIKVA has been recognized as a uniquely successful model for mainstreaming children in need, breaking a cycle of poverty and revitalizing a forgotten Jewish community at the same time. This, in large part, is attributable to the total dedication of Rabbi Baksht, fellow TIKVA leader & CEO Rafael Kruskal and donors from South Africa, the UK and the US who have made these childrens’ lives a priority in their own lives.
Cindy Grosz is a Jewish activist who promotes projects, products and awareness to everything Israel and of international Jewish concern. She represents celebrity spokespeople who speak up for and about Israel. She is also a contributor and Co-host on The Jersey Joe Show 710AM WOR, Sunday nights at 7 EST, or available anytime, anywhere through iHeart Radio.