No longer alone: Evgeniy, 95, says "Now we can see each other..."

Elderly Jews from the former Soviet Union (FSU) are some of the most isolated people in the world. Many live alone, far from family and care. The COVID pandemic, even as it wanes, has left them more closed off than ever. 

Enter JOINTEC, the JDC pilot program that has distributed smartphones to some of the loneliest and most isolated elderly Jews in Ukraine and Moldova.  

The phones reduce the impact of chronic isolation by allowing users to easily participate in community activities and stay in touch with others.    

Evgeniy, 95, says his JDC homecare worker is teaching him how to use it. “It turns on and, my dear ones, I see you all. A huge thank you to JDC. Now we can see each other, talk to each other, share the sorrows and joys of others.” 

Klara Sobokar, 80, says thanks to the phone, “now I’ll be able to once again be an active participant in community life.”

These phones are a window to the outside world, explains, Vladamir Chuchuienko, JDC volunteer, for the people who are forced to stay home due to their health or physical limitations. 

Long before COVID-19 gripped the world, the FSU’s aging Jews grappled with poverty and isolation, struggling to survive on small pensions and grappling with physical and mental health needs. Jewish Federation has been a proud, long-time partner of the JDC, which knows the needs of these Jews and has the ability to reach the most vulnerable no matter where they live. 

In 2020, JDC reached over 80,000 impoverished elderly across 11 countries, delivering homecare, food community connection and more.  With the outbreak of COVID-19, the already vulnerable people JDC serves were suddenly at extreme risk and cut off from neighbors and friends, isolating them even further. 

JDC launched a range of technological innovations, called Jointech, that now enhance its work and ensure the agency can continue to meet the full range of clients’ needs.  These include partnerships with Israeli start-ups that help us bring cutting-edge Israeli technology to the FSU's oldest Jews.  

One example of Jointech's digital innovations is the specially modified smartphone enabling users to participate virtually in community programming and stay in touch with family and friends.  This is essential in combatting the loneliness so prevalent and dangerous for the elderly.  

Another example is a new app which enables homecare workers to record information about elderly clients' wellbeing in real time and respond to needs quickly and efficiently.  

Your Federation gift helps support partners, such as the JDC and its programs and services improving the way that we care for elderly Jews in need across the FSU and helping us save lives.