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Beth Goldberg

Beth Goldberg: Trip to Ukraine a Life Changing Experience - Your Combined Jewish Appeal Dollars at Work

By Beth Goldberg, posted Nov 29, 2012

Winnipeg is an incredible place to live. It’s a growing community, with Jewish organizations that enable connections to be forged in many different ways. We have cultivated strong and meaningful relationships with the broader community. Over the past thirty years, I have been privileged to serve in many different volunteer capacities. The Jewish values I grew up with reinforce my responsibility to do my part to help others and ensure the continued growth and success of our community.

As Chair of Women's Philanthropy, I am honored to ask my peers to join me in securing the future of our community, by volunteering their time and donating their money to the Combined Jewish Appeal’s annual campaign. The money raised by Combined Jewish Appeal has a profound impact on the lives of so many, at home and abroad.

In 2001, I participated in a week-long Jewish Federations of Canada mission to Ukraine and Israel. We visited the village of Belaya Tserkov south of Kiev, and met 80 year-old Rosa and her husband, Avrum. The apartment in which the couple had lived for over forty years had been passed down to them by Rosa's father. Their home consisted of one room, possibly ten feet by ten feet, with floors of bare wood planks. The furniture included no more than two beds, a dresser, a table and four chairs. The single light illuminated a bar-sized fridge padlocked shut because it did not work, and a radio circa 1920. Rosa's government pension was 41 grivna or $9 a month, and because he was war veteran, Avrum's was double that, for a total of $27! The Jewish Agency representative accompanying us was quick to point out that while pensions were appallingly low, prices in Ukraine were not.

The sense of decay was overwhelming. Piles of old newspapers, filthy dishes and ancient pill bottles littered the small space. Notwithstanding, the couple explained that they were grateful that the water ran consistently and that the gas worked to keep them warm. They shared how thankful they were for the daily meals they received, delivered by staff and volunteers of the Chesed Avot, a program funded by the Jewish Agency. It became apparent that the only regular human contact these elderly Jews had was with those kind people. I kept thinking that but for the grace of God, Rosa and Avrum could have been my own grandparents. I was reminded that we are all so fortunate to live where we do.

The three days spent in Ukraine left me with vivid memories, and the conviction that we have a responsibility to ensure that Jews around the world have a measure of dignity and comfort in their lives. We returned home appreciating our good fortune to be able to meet that responsibility.

The Jewish Agency for Israel is supported by the Combined Jewish Appeal’s annual campaign. Donors who have not yet been contacted by volunteer canvassers are encouraged to contact the Federation office at 204-477-7428, or visit to donate online.

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