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Author(s): Yakimenko, Svetlana
Date: 2016
Abstract: Since 1989 Project Kesher has worked bringing women together, creating a network of Jewish women, helping women who knew nothing or very little about what it means to be Jewish, not only to become Jewish, but to create and strengthen Jewish community life in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia and Moldova. We shared success and analyzed the changes. We felt that we were one people.

Due to the present political crises we lost our vision as one Jewish people, we became divided. It was clear Project Kesher needed to take action. We started with International Skype calls. Every evening one woman from Russia, one from Ukraine, one from Belarus, one from Israel called a woman in another country: talking, sharing our love and support, wishing peace. When women started calling each other again and restoring broken relationships we saw that “KESHER” – connection – is working.

One day when there was a serious military clash in the area where she lived one of our leaders proposed to read Tehilim (Psalms), as prayers for peace. Soon more than one hundred women were reading Psalms, creating a chain of peace. Such a spirit of peace prevailed even at a time when the air was filled with war.

In Russia there are refugee families from different regions of the Ukraine. Sometimes they lost everything. Project Kesher women’s groups in cooperation with other Jewish organizations collected clothes, foot-wear as well as school-bags, school record books, sketchbooks, colored paper, paperboard, plasticine, pencil boxes, paints and markers for refugee children. Project Kesher activists also actively participated in organizing camps for refugees in Kharkiv and the Dnipropretrovsk region (Ukraine).

In times of conflict the wish to live in peace is not enough. Women needed instruments for conflict resolution. Project Kesher developed a unique leadership training program with the aim to enable the participants to conduct trainings in conflict resolution themselves in Jewish communities and partner organizations and to engage in mediation. These trainings are often based on Jewish tradition and text study.

A special event is Project Kesher’s Global Women’s Seder that was celebrated in 2015 for the 21st time. No less than 2500 members of 140 Project Kesher women’s and youth groups in 110 cities and five countries – Belarus, Georgia, Israel, Russia and the Ukraine – participated this year. The participants spoke about peace and declared that they intended to do everything possible to maintain peace in their families and in society. With the energy it sets free Project Kesher continues to initiate positive changes.
Author(s): Sheldon, Ruth
Date: 2016