Ulin House of Brighton and Russian Community
Step Up to the Plate for Israel
By Susie Davidson
BRIGHTON - The Ulin House of Brighton, part of a Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly apartment complex located on Wallingford Road, is home to 600 elders, mostly Russian-speaking and from the former Soviet Union.
These residents, primarily pensioners living off of several hundreddollars per month, have, nonetheless, not shirked their social responsibilities.
JCHE has established a special committee, the Ulin House Israel Committee, dedicated to financially support Israeli causes. Headed by community leader Naakh Vysokky, the Committee has contributed steadily to Israel, donating thousands of dollars alone over the past 18 months' escalation of violence.
"Someone did a mitzvah for us by taking us from an anti-Semitic country and bringing us to America," says Vysoky's wife and active Committee member Klara. "Now it is our obligation to help other people and especially Israel, which is now in trouble."
Brookline attorney Jeremy Poock assists in their effort, writing appropriate letters and mailing donations. "Since I began working with Naakh and his Committee," he reports, "they have given over $5,000 to the Israel Crisis Management Center (ICMC), which assists Russian-speaking immigrant victims of terror in Israel, and $2,000.00 to the LIBI fund, which directly supports the efforts of the IDF. Naakh's Committee has now collected $3,000.00 in response to the latest violence that has stricken Israel, and that they will soon be ready to make another donation as well."
Such dedication, especially given the limited assets of this community, is nothing short of remarkable. The Ulin House's efforts shine a beacon of hope and light to all organizations who might perhaps feel hindered in what they can do to help.
A team of Committee members visit residents personally to speak with them about the effort; they receive donations ranging from $5.00 to 100.00, all from Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Recipients of the pooled donations include the Israel Crisis Management Center, which supports immigrant victims of terror in Israel, the LIBI Fund, the Jerusalem Fund and the Zionist Forum, as well as individual victims of terror.
At the April 3 Ulin House's community seder, the Israeli situation was discussed, and a Certificate of Merit was read that the LIBI Fund sent to the Committee, written in Russian, expressing their appreciation for its recent $1,000 donation.
The Committee has raised over $25,000.00 over the past nine years, including $10,000.00 over the past 18 months. "Nobody goes to help the Jews if we don't help the Jews ourselves," says Vysoky, an immigrant from Ukraine, who came to America nearly 20 years ago and has been a JCHE resident since 1988.
"Working with Naakh and the Ulin House Israel Committee is an absolute honor," says Poock. "The JCHE residents have proven their commitment to Israel on a consistent and very significant basis."
Their work has also been recognized by Israel's highest ranks, including current Israeli Minister of Housing and Construction and Deputy Prime Minister Natan Sharansky. In a 1996 letter to Vysoky, he wrote: "All of us are deeply touched with the generosity of the Russian Jewish community of the Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly and their readiness to help new repatriates, who became victims of Arab terror."
Russian elders outside of JCHE have also donated over $20,000.00 to Israeli causes since September 2000, notes Sergey Bologov, Chair of the Joint Action Committee for the Russian Speaking Jewish Community. "Of course we cannot even compare to what the Boston Jewish community contributes to Israel, but having our friends and relatives in Israel and being committed to Israel, we cannot sit and do nothing," says Bologov. "We try to do what we can, and we know that every little bit helps."
The Association of Veterans of WWII from the Former USSR raised over $2,000.00 at a free concert at Temple B'nai Moshe in Brighton on March 24, to be sent to individual victims of terror in Israel. An additional $3,000 over the next week is earmarked for the LIBI Fund in Israel.
Says Rabbi Dan Rodkin, Executive Director of Brighton's Jewish Russian Center and Synagogue, "I am very proud of the Russian Jewish community for not being indifferent to our brothers and sisters in Israel."