Five Towners collect money, send supplies to besieged Ukrainians


A call from one boyhood friend to another in the first weeks of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in early March, sparked a quick collection of $20,000 that helped buy portable anesthesia machines and pulse oximeters that were sent to the Regional Clinic Licarnya in Kharkiv.

“I knew what was going on from the very beginning of the war, and he called me kind of panicking,” Woodmere resident Dr. Vadim Firdman, a dentist with offices in Lynbrook and Brooklyn, said of his childhood friend Dr. Rostylav Chaplinskyy, who is head of anesthesiology at the hospital in Kharkiv. “He said they were down to four units of anesthesia and they were struggling with a lack of equipment.”

Firdman, 57, who was born and grew up in Ukraine, immigrated to the United States 20 years ago, but remained in contact with Chaplinskyy. They have been friends for over 50 years, Firdman said. “I was born in Ukraine, I grew up in Ukraine,” Firdman said. “Like all normal people, I want to help — especially people that need the help.”

Within two weeks after they spoke, the money the hospital needed was raised using Venmo. Gradian Health Systems, a nonprofit medical technology company, partnered with Diamedica UK Ltd. to supply the equipment. Rohlog SUUS Logistics, a partner of Gradian, coordinated shipment and delivery of the equipment to Chaplinskyy’s hospital.

“We believe that because of the partnerships we’ve developed with people like Dr. Chaplinskyy and Dr. Firdman, we can help address some of the ongoing health care needs exacerbated by the crisis,” Nicole Lund, Gradian’s North America logistics manager wrote in an email. “We at Gradian believe in building strong networks and commend Dr. Firdman for the work he is doing to ensure that resources are being sent to Ukraine at this time.

A former member of the Marion & Aaron Gural JCC board, Firdman is doing what that organization is also doing, watching the war unfold in Ukraine and offering help.

“We are keeping our eyes and ears open and helping in any ways we can,” said Aaron Rosenfeld, the Gural JCC’s CEO.
The JCC Association of North America’s mission is to lead and connect the Jewish Community Center movement across the continent, to advance and enrich Jewish life.

There are more than 170 JCCs that welcome some 1.5 million in-person and online weekly visitors, according to association figures.

Recently, the Gural JCC, in Cedarhurst, and the Sid Jacobson JCC, in Roslyn, collected what Gural Chief Operating Officer Lisa Stein described as “medium-sized bags” of medical items such as bandages and ointments, and worked with St. Michael’s Ukrainian Church, in Uniondale, to ship the supplies to Ukraine.

“Ukraine is home to one of the world’s largest Jewish communities,” the JCC Association said in a statement, “with some 200,000 Jews concentrated in the country’s four largest cities spread across dozens of smaller cities and towns in every corner of the country.”

Rosenfeld said that the Gural JCC was working on a program as part of the umbrella organization, in partnership with JServe and the Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in Israel to help the Ukrainian refugees who are fleeing the country and are settling in Hungary, Moldova, Poland and Romania.

Jewish History Day was recognized during the April 3 Rangers-Flyers hockey game at Madison Square Garden.
Donations and a portion of the ticket sales revenue were added to a crisis fund for Ukraine, Rosenfeld said.

With more than 100,000 Ukrainian refugees headed to the United States, Rosenfeld said the JCC would be “helping in any ways we can.”