In an incredible act of solidarity with the people of Ukraine, twelve Jewish Federation leaders arrived in the country this morning to visit war-torn communities, assess the needs on the ground and witness first-hand the incredible impact of Jewish Federations’ philanthropy.
This is the first mission of its kind to Ukraine led by a major Jewish organization since the war broke out eighteen months ago.
“Jewish Federations have played a significant role in the relief efforts of this crisis, leveraging our wide networks across North America and our vast expertise to raise critical funds and deliver them where they are most needed, mobilize volunteers and create a world class resettlement program,” said Jewish Federations of North America National Campaign Chair and Ukraine Response Task Force Chair J. David Heller. “It is inspiring to see and hear first-hand how our efforts have made a difference in the lives of our Ukrainian brothers and sisters. As the war rages on, our leaders are committed to activating their communities in this collective fundraising effort so that we can continue to meet the growing needs.”
During the visit, the participants will be briefed by representatives of organizations supported by Federations’ philanthropy on the ongoing challenges they face, as well as on the impact of their relief efforts to date. The participants will also visit sites where Ukrainian Jews, including those that are internally displaced, receive support and services by Federation core partners JDC (American Jewish Joint Distribution Center) and The Jewish Agency for Israel.
Among the sites visit are JDC's Hesed Arieh in Lviv, which provides human services, material and medical assistance, and Jewish programming for the city's elderly and poor and the wider Jewish community and has become a focal point for internally displaced Jews since the war broke out and for the distribution of humanitarian aid supplies throughout Ukraine. The center is also home to a Warming Hub, used by local Jews seeking warmth and care during the harsh winter months, as well as a Volunteer Hub, staffed by local Jewish volunteers of all ages.
In the resort town of Truskavets, the participants will meet with internally displaced Jews who are housed in a local hotel by JDC, where they are provided accommodation, food, medicine, pyscho-social support, and social and cultural activities.
In Polyana, the group will visit a Jewish Agency overnight summer camp for Jewish children between the ages of seven and twelve, where they can enjoy a summer experience in a safe environment while learning about Jewish identity and building connections with Israel and the rest of the Jewish world.
Also in Western Ukraine, the group will observe an Aliyah preparations seminar as well as a resilience training organized by the Jewish Agency’s JReady initiative, utilizing professional trainers from the Israel Trauma Coalition to benefit principals and administrators associated with the Chabad community in Ukraine.
The four-day mission will conclude in Hungary with briefings from the Jewish Agency, JDC and the JCC Budapest Balint Haz about their relief efforts, along with a visit to the JDC-LAUDER Camp Szarvas, a Jewish identity and leadership building summer program for youth from dozens of countries. This past winter, with Jewish Federation support, the facility was utilized as a respite camp for hundreds of Ukrainian Jews.
To date, Jewish Federations have collectively raised more than $90 million for humanitarian aid and relief for Ukrainians, which has focused on emergency operational costs, temporary housing and transportation for evacuations, security, humanitarian support, trauma and medical relief, and immigration and absorption in Israel. Jewish Federations were uniquely positioned to respond immediately and effectively to the crisis due to our long presence in the region supporting our partners in Ukraine and neighboring countries.
Jewish Federations have also sent over 150 Russian and Ukrainian speaking Jewish volunteers to placements on the Ukraine border and in neighboring countries through our volunteer hub and have played a lead role in refugee resettlement efforts in North America, through advocacy and by providing support to local service agencies that have welcomed displaced Ukrainians into their Jewish communities.
Jewish Federations continue to provide critical support for the Ukrainian Jewish community within Ukraine as well as those that fled to other locales.