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Earlier this month we celebrated the liberation of our people from the bondage of slavery.  During this period with events that unfolded in Kansas City and continue to unfold in Ukraine, we were reminded that our history is not always past.

The story of the persecution of our people simply because of who we are is one that seems unable to disappear.  We are faced with this reality here in the United States where we are more vibrant and esteemed than we have ever been before.  The fact that the violence in Kansas City wound up harming only non-Jews was a tragic reminder of this profound acceptance here at home.

Our hearts go out to the victims of that senseless act.

Here at home, I was proud of the response of our own community.  Working closely with the ADL and JCRC, Federation convened our communal leadership and reached out to our synagogues to address immediate security concerns.  Local municipalities, particularly in University City and Creve Coeur provided additional protection to our temples and synagogues on Passover.  But all of this was behind the scenes along with offers of support for our neighbors to the west. The response to the tragedy locally was thus one of sympathy and support, rather than fear and over reaction.

Overseas the story is less rosy.  Throughout the world, when a crisis emerges, Jewish communities are more often targeted simply for being different. There is increasing concern this is happening in Ukraine.

For over a century, Federation has worked to provide the resources to respond to these kinds of crises at a moment’s notice. Working through our partner agencies of the  American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and the Jewish Agency for Israel, Federation resources enable ongoing responses in Ukraine, continuing to support Jewish life and organizations. As the situation develops our partners continue to work in effective ways to protect the area’s most vulnerable residents and Jewish institutions, creating lifelines that can be activated in response to the need. Your annual gift makes these responses possible.  We have also set up a supplemental Ukraine Assistance Fund through which you may add to your annual support.

We are people of faith and hope who understand the continuity of our people depends on the security we are able to provide, as well as the community that we can build here at home.  Our support demonstrates the collective strength of our global Jewish family. They know they are not alone, their story is your story; more importantly, it is the story of us all.