Editor’s Note: During the Ukraine Crisis, the JDC has distributed weekly emergency bulletins providing an ‘insider’s update” on current developments. This one from early June brings people face-to-face with Inessa Nosenko. She gives life to JDC work in Ukraine. Inessa runs the JDC-supported JCC in Zaporizhia, a city which has been under intermittent fire since the war began. Below are some snippets from a very emotional interview held with her. As many know, Zaporizhia is Richmond’s sister city.
What is life like in Zaporizhia right now?
A week ago, the city was very dark. People were afraid to turn on their lights. Windows were closed and barricaded for protection, or because they had been bombed. The streets are full of half-destroyed cars belonging to people who fled the heavy fighting. It was a sad picture of a city that used to be very bright and colorful.
How has your work changed since the war began?
There are even less hours in the day! The JCC is actually still running all of our pre-war programs – using the online platform we developed during COVID. But we are also dealing with a lot of new issues and challenges:
At first, we were handling logistics of people wishing to evacuate, now we are helping people who need psychological support, people who have lost their jobs and need help. We are also working with internally displaced people who now need help in Zaporizhia.
How did you get into this role and what inspires you today? In 1999, I was running a business when JDC asked me to establish a JCC in Zaporizhia. I accepted the challenge. Now the JCC is my child and I am a crazy Jewish mom! My own parents are homebound here in Zaporizhia. JDC is taking care of them and that inspires me to stay and keep working here, helping people like my parents.
What does JDC’s support mean to you at this time?
It makes me feel like I have a family of Jewish community all over the world. It gives me confidence that every community member will be safe and protected and that Jewish life in Zaporizhia will continue. Knowing that we have such a reliable partner with good-hearted supporters helps me know that despite all the challenges, life will go on.
Thank you for ensuring that JDC remains a reliable partner to Inessa and her fellow Jews in Ukraine. For more, visit www.jdc.org/