Spotlight on Ukraine: What’s at Risk and How to Help

Gordon Haber

Nikolay Karabinovych, “The Dead Pool Won’t Ripple,” 2019. Installation and detail. Made from 50 spent rifle cartridges, the piece, according to the artist, “visualizes the fragilities and fortitudes of the LGBT+ community.”

CANVAS is a nonprofit dedicated to strengthening the field of Jewish arts and culture. We founded this newsletter to amplify the work of our grantees and highlight the creativity of Jewish artists and writers. This week, however, we’d like to expand that notion and focus on Ukraine.

In the rush of social media and the churning news cycle, it can be really tough to get some context — on how to help, on Ukrainian Jewry, and on the great risks to Ukrainian arts and culture. We’ve assembled the links below in the hopes of providing some insight.

It’s not meant as comprehensive, so by all means let us know what we may have missed — and, as always, what you think. 
First, how to help.

  • The talented team at The Forward has compiled a list of agencies dedicated to helping the Ukrainian Jewish community (The Forward).
  • Arlekin Players Theatre is raising funds for humanitarian aid to Ukraine; it also started the #ArtistsforUkraine social campaign (donate here)

Ukrainian arts and culture is at risk.

  • “We’ve been screaming into the void for years”: Ukrainian artists speak out as invasion intensifies (Hyperallergic).
  • Ukraine has accused Russia of destroying a museum, including dozens of works by Ukrainian folk artist Maria Pryimachenko (Hyperallergic).
  • Thousands of Russian artists denounce invasion in an open letter (Hyperallergic).
  • Ukrainian artists and institutions react to an uncertain future (ArtNews).
  • Ukrainian museums scramble to protect collections (The Art Newspaper).
Fintan Magee, “The Rebuild.” Mural in Kyev. Photo: John Dalton.

Delve into Ukraine’s thriving arts scene.

  • Check out contemporary artists engaging with Ukrainian Jewish themes herehere, and here.
  • More Ukrainian artists here.
  • Kiev has amazing culture of street art (Kyivmural).
  • The Zimmerli Art Museum of Rutgers University is showing “Painting in Excess: Kyiv’s Art Revival, 1985-1993” until March 13th (Zimmerli).

Learn about Ukraine and its Jewish community.

  • “Who are Ukraine’s Jews?” (The Forward)
  • The Jewish Book Council’s Spotlight on Ukraine has a great reading list of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry of Jewish and Ukrainian interest (JBC).
  • What does Putin mean by “denazification?” Andrew Silow-Carroll gets to the bottom of it with Jason Young, author of How Fascism Works. (JTA). 
  • Benjamin Ivry on the long history of Russian crimes against Ukrainian Jews (The Forward).
  • Joshua Meyers outlines the complicated and bloody history of Ukraine’s Jewish community (JTA).
  • Ukrainian-Jewish relations is an ongoing conversation (Ukrainian-Jewish Encounter).
  • Gal Beckerman explains President Zelensky in the context of Ukrainian Jewry (The Atlantic). 

American Jews are reconsidering their connections to Ukraine

  • Michele Kirichanskaya is “feeling both a connection and disconnect with my family’s homeland” (Alma).
  • Elana Rabinowitz explains that “I always thought of myself as Jewish, not Russian or Ukrainian — until now” (Kveller).
Maria Prymachenko, “Eared Beast Grasped a Crustacean,” 1983. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

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