A new Jewish Community Center opened in Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkov.
Donors, volunteers and staff of World Jewish Relief, which raised the funds for and oversaw construction of the building, were among those on hand for the official opening March 30 in the northeastern Ukraine community.
Representatives from The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the Claims Conference also attended, along with Israel’s ambassador to Ukraine and local dignitaries including the vice governor and vice mayor of Kharkov. Hundreds of community members also attended.
The previous Kharkov JCC was located on a dilapidated site and was unable to serve the community’s 40,000 Jews, especially the elderly and handicapped. The World Jewish Relief organization began raising funds for the new building in 2008.
The Maurice and Vivienne Wohl Philanthropic Foundation, and its vice chairman, Nigel Ross, and his wife, Lynne, were major supporters of the three-story building, which includes areas for welfare support, Jewish education and community life, including a 250-seat auditorium, dance halls and space for communal festival celebrations
“None of us would have imagined that a center of this nature, meeting the needs of a thriving Jewish community, would have been possible in this area 20 years ago,” said Martin Paisner, a trustee of the Wohl foundation, at the center’s opening. “Maurice and Vivienne would have been enormously moved by what we are doing here today; relief and renewal of the Jewish people was something to which they were totally committed, and they would have been very proud.”