The devastation in Ukraine is taking an emotional toll on Brighton residents and Holocaust survivors Joseph and Maria, who are in their mid-80s. “It breaks our hearts what is going on there,” Maria says emotionally.

Maria and Joseph’s story, like those of so many Ukrainian and Russian immigrants, has been fraught with hardship. In 1989, seeking a better life, they left Ukraine with just a few suitcases and limited English, and made their way to Boston.

Jewish agencies, including CJP and Yad Chessed, have helped since the start. “From the resettlement program when we first arrived, to the Holocaust survivors’ support and Family Table at JF&CS, to the grocery gift cards and assistance from Yad Chessed, we are so thankful for everything,” says Joseph.

A young Joseph and Maria (Courtesy photo)
A young Joseph and Maria (Courtesy photo)

Maria adds, “And the last few months have been so hard with the war going on. We get so sad about everything and feel overwhelmed. Thankfully, Yad Chessed, and our amazing Russian-speaking social worker, Katya, are there for us. I feel like Yad Chessed was created by God.”

Joseph and Maria live on a limited social security income and on government food benefits. The assistance from Yad Chessed—much-needed monthly Stop & Shop gift cards, as well as periodic Target cards— are essential and help them make ends meet.

“We have to pay out of pocket for some of my medicine—and for hygiene products—and everything is so expensive. We don’t know what we would do without Yad Chessed,” says Joseph. Maria adds with excitement, “And it’s great that they have Katya! My English is not that good, and it is so nice she can speak Russian and can understand me!”

Life has not been easy for Joseph and Maria. But they are grateful for their thriving family, including their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and for Boston’s caring and generous Jewish community.

Yad Chessed serves as a safety net for Jewish individuals and families who struggle with financial hardship. Those who need assistance can call 781-487-2693 or email  

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