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Home » About Chamah » History » The 90's

The 90's

With Glasnost and Perestroika, the door to religious freedom has swung open wider than ever before.  Chamah’s programs are structured to prevent the assimilation of Russian Jewry by ending their estrangement from our Jewish history, tradition and heritage. They reflect the reawakening of Soviet Jewry. The breakdown of the Soviet Union created many economic problems and has resulted in mass impoverishment of the most vulnerable social groups. As a response, Chamah started providing humanitarian aid and relief to the needy there.

 

First National Forum in the FSU Sparks Jewish Revival

The first Forum, a three day event entitled “Reawakening 1990-91” was convened in a theater in downtown Moscow.  Approximately 1,000 activists from over 100 communities participated.  The conference included lectures by American Israeli and Soviet participants; workshops; and the viewing of video tapes on Chanukah and the Jewish way of life.  Publisher Milton Gralla headed the American delegation. The delegates participated in open discussions, met other activists, exchanged ideas, and drew up a long term program for the revival of Judaism in the Soviet Union.

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Chamah and the US Government - Working Together in Russia

Chamah is the organization which the United States Government entrusted to head the program of food distribution to the most needy citizens of the Russian Federation. Chamah distributed food commodities, donated by the USDA in more than 60 cities throughout the FSU.

Chamah has succeeded in feeding millions of people from all walks of life. Food staples have been distributed to over 1,200 institutions such as hospitals, orphanages, clinics for chronically ill people and children, blind and disabled people, prisons, children of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, victims of ethnic conflicts, refugees from the troubled southern regions of Russia, institutions for the mentally ill, low income families etc.

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Jewish Home for Underprivileged Children

At the Gan Chamah Jewish Home and Educational Center situated on beautifully landscaped grounds, 170 Jewish children from broken and dysfunctional homes live, study and play. This offers unprivileged children the chance to live enriching lives.

The first of its kind in Russia, it has the full cooperation of the Russian authorities. The children are receiving a Jewish education for the first time in three generations as well as a secular education on the highest standards with computer rooms and other equipment to cultivate their talents. These youngsters are living and learning in a warm and nurtured environment with the pride and dignity that every Jewish child deserves.

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Jewish Communities in FSU Warmly Welcome Chamah Emissaries

Chamah sponsored dozens of Jewish educators to be sent to the Soviet Union with the purpose of reviving the Jewish communities. They visit members of the Jewish community teaching Hebrew, Jewish history and tradition, as well as open Jewish institutions to attend to their material and spiritual welfare.

Despite the rise in Jewish emigration from the FSU, hundreds of thousands of Jews still remain there. 

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Chamah Sends Needed Educational Material to Soviet Jews

The growth of Jewish studies in the Soviet Union brought forth many requests from the delegates at the First National Forum for educational materials.  Chamah sent a variety of Jewish books, games and other educational materials in the thousands to major cities throughout the FSU. 

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Soup Kitchen

The collapse of the Soviet system has created an extreme social diversity; extremely wealthy or destitute. People who spent their lives working for the Soviet government are now forced to survive on a meager pension with prices almost on the level of the western market. The situation is such that seniors are living in crumbling old apartment houses with broken light-bulbs, with alcoholics, drug addicts and other undesirable lurking in the hallways.

There are many who go to bed hungry. They cannot afford the luxury of rummaging through  the garbage for food as there is none to be found. Every day our soup kitchen feeds hundreds of hot and nutritious meals to needy and elderly in poor health. They are highly intellectual retired scientists, mathematicians, doctors, engineers and composers.

Our soup kitchen and senior citizens club has become their home where they receive hot and nutritious meals, moral support and have their spirits uplifted.

Chamah’s senior citizens club is a unique facility in Russia. The Jewish elders are spending their golden years socializing among their peers where they can enjoy reading viewing videos on Jewish topics, listening to Jewish music and feeling the pride and dignity they were deprived of for so many years.

There is also a doctor on the premises to meet the medical needs of the elderly. For those who are less fortunate and are homebound, our “Meals on Wheels” program delivers nutritious meals to their doors and helps to take care of their personal needs at home.

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Chamah Hails Humanitarian Campaign for the Needy in Russia

Russian officials, social workers and the needy themselves are effusive in their praise of Chamah’s program to provide essential food products, clothing and medical supplies to the poor and needy in Russia. Letters of gratitude from the recipients of this aid have been pouring in to Chamah’s office.

The economic plight in Russia has resulted in drastic shortages. The people are experiencing sever hunger and poverty. Many thousands of these victims spend hours on line to buy food at affordable prices, only to be told upon reaching the counter that there is no remaining food to be sold. Chamah has been shipping items ranging from food to electrical equipment, from socks to bandages, and from fabrics to shoes.

A special fund has been established in Washington to sponsor shipments of humanitarian aid to Russia. Chamah has earned their recognition and is now utilizing their shipping services free of charge. 

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Summer Day Camp in Russia

Hundreds of Jewish boys and girls enjoy the summer day camps Chamah operates in Russia. The children learn about their heritage and religion for the first time in their lives. They enjoyed sports such as badminton, baseball and swimming. The children ate nutritious food such as chicken and fish as well benefited from everyday comforts enjoyed by children in the United States. Gala Bar Mitzvah celebrations are held throughout the camps.

 

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Israel

Gala Event - Mass Jewish Wedding Celebration for Soviet Immigrants in Israel

As an expression of joy and commitment to Soviet Jewry, Chamah conducted a gala group wedding celebration for Soviet Jewish immigrants. Soviet Jews previously were deprived of their heritage and were not permitted Jewish marriage according to the tradition of the Jewish people.  Dozens of couples representing Russian Jewry were married renewing their vows according to the tradition of the Jewish people.

A press conference prior to the wedding was held for print, radio and TV media.  Thus, the news of this outstanding event was able to reach our Jewish brothers in the FSU and around the world.

Chamah organized a special group from the United States and this was an opportunity for Jews in the United States and around the world to participate in a memorable occasion.
 

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Entering the Covenant of Abraham

With the mass emigration to Israel, the Olim wish to connect to their Jewish heritage. Chamah receives thousands of calls from the new immigrants interested in having a “Brit Mila”. Very often three generations of Jewish males would have their Brit Mila performed on the same day! 

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