Questions and Answers About Yad L'Yad

What is the goal of Yad L'Yad?

The goal of the program is to support fellow Jews who are eager to pursue their Jewish heritage and involve American Jews in the process of Jewish renewal in the FSU. Every Yad L'Yad (YLY) partnership is unique because each Jewish community in the FSU has its own needs and interests. Through YLY, groups in the U.S. provide cultural, educational, moral, and financial support to grassroots Jewish leaders and institutions. Yad L'Yad provides medicine and food parcels, desperately needed by the elderly and children. YLY partnerships also offer a link to the West for FSU communities that fall victim to antisemitism.

Who's taking part in YLY in this country?

Jewish congregations from all over the U.S. are participating in this program. American partners enrich their own sense of Jewish identity by fostering mitzvot, Tikkum Olam, and Am Yisrael.

Project Yad L'Yad has grown substantially since its birth in 1990, when nine councils across the U.S were first partnered with Jewish communities in the FSU. Since March 1994, UCSJ has helped to support over 70 YLY equal partnerships.

Who's taking part in the former Soviet Union?

Many Americans are under the impression that most Jews have left the FSU. This just isn't so! Approximately two million Jews remain in the FSU today, and many Jewish communities have pleaded for help from the West.

Those Jews left in the FSU today are often struggling to regain their heritage that was so denied them during Soviet times. Yad L'Yad reaches out to them and helps them to reestablish their identities as Jews.

In addition to educational needs, many communities look to Yad L'Yad to help them provide support to their sick, elderly, and young people.

What kind of time commitment does Yad L'Yad require?

This is not a program of deadlines, but rather a long-term, supportive friendship which can be geared to your schedule. There is a lot of flexibility; however, a monthly phone call to your FSU contact is essential in maintaining the relationship. In addition, a good line of communication between the synagogue and your local UCSJ Yad L'Yad member council insures that the national office stays well informed and able to give the partnership full support.

What kind of financial commitment are we making?

Other than the expense of phone calls, the financial commitment depends on you and what kind of projects your synagogue selects to meet a particular need. For instance, many synagogues have helped their partners set up Jewish libraries, visiting nurses, or "Meals on Wheels" programs for the elderly. In addition, many Jews are in need of food and medicine and Yad L'Yad can help you send these lifesaving items to your community.

How do we get started?

  1. Make contact with the UCSJ national office or your local UCSJ member council.
  2. Receive a Yad L'Yad Handbook and an orientation on the program.
  3. Make the initial call and get acquainted with your English-speaking YLY contact in the FSU town.
  4. Develop a need-based agenda with your FSU partners.
  5. Exchange information and photographs between your congregation and the FSU partner community.
You are now on your way to providing valuable assistance to your partner community, and receiving so much in return.

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Copyright 2005 by UCSJ: Union of Councils for Jews in the Former Soviet Union.