Asssociation of Jewish Organizations & Communities of Ukraine -VAAD
The Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities (VAAD) of Ukraine was created on January 14 1991 and registered by the Justice Ministry of Ukraine. 265 organizations from 94 cities of Ukraine come under the VAAD, including 63 religious communities, 56 city communities, 15 social structures, 17 Jewish schools, 55 cultural organizations, 10 associations of prisoners of ghettos and concentration camps, 19 youth organizations, as well as 5 associated member organizations.The Association is a part of interstate Jewish Confederation – the VAAD (CIS), the European Council of Jewish Communities, the European and Eurasian Jewish Congresses, the founder of the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine.
The regeneration of the Jewish community in Ukraine began in the end of 1987 – beginning of 1988, after 70 years interval. At the present time the Jewish life is presented in more than 80 cities by nearly 250 organizations and communities that are united into 3 structures: Va’ad of Ukraine (210), Jewish Council of Ukraine (150), and the Union of Jewish religious communities of Ukraine (74). Many organizations and communities participate in the activities of all three mentioned structures.The Jewish community of Ukraine counts today nearly 550 thousand of Jews and their families members in more than 130 cities (this estimation is given accordingly to Israel “The Law of Return”). For the last five years about 200 thousand of Jews have emigrated from Ukraine (to Israel – 110 thousand; to the USA – 70 thousand). The total number of Jews emigrated since 1989 is more than 300 thousand (to Israel – more than 170 thousand; to the USA – more than 100 thousand). The natural decrease of the Jewish population in Ukraine for the mentioned period approached 50 thousand, due to the exceeding of the death-rate above the birth-rate.
Having proclaimed the independence in 1991, Ukraine chose an uneasy way of democratic transformations, social-economical reforms, renounced the ideological heritage of the soviet regime, including the State and administrative Antisemitism and Anti-Zionism. Upon the declaration of the democratic policy, a number of legislative acts were approved in defense of national minorities’ interests and for providing the legislative conditions for the development of national cultures, education and religions.
All the main Jewish “umbrella” organizations are officially recognized by the authorities of Ukraine; cooperate in a number of programmes with the State ministries and departments. Representatives of the Jewish organizations often attend meetings at different State levels, including the highest level. National communities do not receive for the present any real and concrete help from the State; there is not the law on restitution; however this is explainable by the difficult economical conditions and rather complicated internal political situation in Ukraine.The interrelations between the main Jewish structures of Ukraine and the permanent representations of the Jewish Agency, the JDC and the Israel Foundation for Culture and Education in Diaspora in Ukraine mainly are normal and working, but not simple sometimes.
The main achievement of the Jewish community of Ukraine for the last five years is creation of the permanent working professional communal structures in all the fields of the Jewish life: social defense and education, culture and religion, Jewish studies and work with the youth, repatriation and preservation of the Jewish heritage, information, etc. For five years period all the mentioned programmes as well as many others, from separate amateur actions, have turned out to be a serious professional work. All current professional structures render their services to the Jews of Ukraine mainly free of charge.
The partners of Va’ad of Ukraine in creation and support for the professional services were and still are the European and the World Jewish Congresses, the JDC, the Israel Foundation for Culture and Education in Diaspora, the L.A.Pincus Fund, Rich Foundation, Kamings Foundation, Foundation in Support of Jewish Communities’ Development, the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, the Jewish Foundation for Christian Rescuers, ICRDJC “Tkhiya”, the JCU, etc.