CHICAGO – The Greater Chicago Jewish Festival was held in the Cook County Forest Preserve in Morton Grove, Ill., on June 12. This year’s biennial festival, produced by the non-profit Jewish Production Organization for Cultural Events and Theater (POCET), featured a special segment focused on the war in Ukraine.
Founded and chaired by Michael M. Lorge in 1980, the festival is the longest-running Jewish festival in the United States and it is the largest Jewish cultural event in Chicago. This year, the festival program featured “A Moment for Ukraine” segment intended to recognize the crisis in Ukraine and to increase awareness and support for the current humanitarian needs in Ukraine.
The “A Moment for Ukraine” segment featured performances by cantor Pavel Roytman and Sofi Fraser, accompanied by Alex Koffman, violinist and bandleader of the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band. Mr. Roytman was born in Mykolayiv, Ukraine. Since February 24, he has organized and participated in multiple events, raising funds and awareness for the people of Ukraine.
Ms. Fraser is a Ukrainian songwriter, singer, composer, poet and pianist. She has been performing under the name “Sofi Fraser Project,” which supports orphanages in Stryi and Znamianka, Ukraine. Ms. Fraser’s hometown is Lviv, Ukraine. Ukrainian folk songs were featured in Ukrainian, English, Yiddish and Hebrew.
During the segment, Consul General of Ukraine in Chicago Serhiy Koledov began his remarks with an expression of gratitude to the organizers for the invitation to the festival. Mr. Koledov thanked all of the Jewish non-governmental organizations for their humanitarian assistance for Ukraine. He brought to attention the expression of solidarity and humanitarian support by the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago (JUF) for Ukraine and the Ukrainian people and their unequivocal condemnation of Russia’s attack on Ukraine. He reiterated the urgent need for critical items in Ukraine.
President Dan I. Diaczun and Vice-President Pavlo T. Bandriwsky of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America-Illinois Division, together with others from the Ukrainian community in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, also attended the event.
Maria Korkatsch-Groszko, Ph.D., is vice-president of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America-Illinois Division and a professor emerita at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago.