In Ukraine right now, home to an estimated 200,000 Jews when fighting began, the needs are extraordinary. Life has been completely disrupted across the country with over 3 million people by some estimates fleeing the fighting, and food and water in short supply in many areas.
The majority of the Ukrainian Jewish community lives in the capital, Kyiv, which is currently under assault by columns of Russian forces. Kharkiv, another major center of Jewish life, is taking heavy rocket fire damaging residential neighborhoods, with fear sweeping across the community. Across Ukraine when sirens sound, members of the Jewish community are sheltering in subway stations, basements, or wherever they believe they have the greatest chance of survival. Thousands are trapped in conflict zones in the east. Thousands more have fled the fighting.
But because of your support for the Community Campaign, our Federation partners, the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), American Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), and World ORT were already on the ground doing critical work for Ukraine’s Jewish community.
Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI)
Our partners at the Jewish Agency set up hotlines overnight to help guide local community members through these chaotic times. Six processing stations on the Ukrainian border with Poland, Moldova, Romania, and Hungary, are already up and running to support the Ukrainian Jews who wish to make aliyah to Israel. They have successfully moved 1,950 olim from Ukraine and 823 olim from Russia to Israel and are expecting to help thousands more in the coming days. As of March 16, 8445 Jews have applied for aliyah. Staff on the ground are working around the clock under difficult and dangerous conditions to meet the ever-changing needs on the ground.
Joint Distribution Committee (JDC)
JDC is reporting “spiking humanitarian needs” among the nearly 40,000 low-income Jews it supports in 1,000 locations around Ukraine. JDC is delivering critical assistance—getting food and medicine to those in need, activating a local volunteer corps, and leveraging its network of Hesed social service centers to address emerging needs as events unfold. JDC is also preparing to handle mass displacement, deploy psychosocial support, and increased aid to the most vulnerable.
JDC staff and volunteers report dire situations for many Ukrainian Jewish seniors and others with mobility problems. Power outages prevent these individuals from going to bomb shelters when rockets attack their areas. Many are essentially trapped in upper floors of apartment buildings, and the JDC food, water and medicine they receive are the only links to the outside world.
JDC has deployed emergency resources within Ukraine wherever possible. Recent additions include:
- Satellite phones to enhance communication in the many areas without power or phone lines
- Increased medical assistance to areas under attack
- Increased security measures at synagogues, Jewish community centers, and other Jewish agencies
World ORT is involved in the lives of more than 8,000 people including students, teachers, staff, and their families in Ukraine. Due to the crisis ORT schools are currently closed, but ORT continues to support students, teachers, and families, by providing emergency items including food with a long shelf life, water, matches and lighters, batteries and portable chargers, bio-toilets, LED torches, and walkie-talkies, first aid kits, essential medicines, and more.
United Hatzalah, one of the agencies that Jewish Federation’s Community Campaign donations support, has treated 10,000 refugees with medical and humanitarian aid, served 4,000 meals and delivered 30 metric tons of aid including medical supplies, clothing, food and hygiene products. United Hatzalah has 55 medics on the ground in Kishinev.
This work lies at the heart of our Federation values: righteousness and justice (tzedakah), honor for all human beings (k’vod ha-b’riot), and compassion (chesed, rachamim). It is who we are, it is what we do. The Jewish Federation’s Community Campaign ensured that our Jewish 911 response team were in place when disaster struck in Ukraine. Thank you for your Community Campaign support, which makes this critical work happen.