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“Everything Could Change In An Instant”: Vitalii’s Story


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On March 5, Olga was asked if she could leave war-torn Dnipro within two hours, and The Jewish Agency would evacuate her and her son Ruslan (12). Olga packed bags with food and clothing and they left. They spent that night in Krivoi Rog, where Olga’s friend Nelly, who had been thinking about Aliyah for years, had lived. Now, Nelly, too, had to make a decision quickly, and she joined Olga and left for Romania. Both women’s husbands stayed behind to fight in the war.


Olga remembers. “We crossed the border, and a Jewish Agency representative gave us hot meals. We were then taken to a nearby village and were sheltered for two days. Upon arriving in Bucharest, The Jewish Agency gave us a hotel room and I opened my suitcase to find that it contained my husband’s things instead of mine. I laughed and cried, hoping that he will join us.”


By March 13, The Jewish Agency took Olga, Nelly, and Ruslan to their flight to Tel Aviv and from there they went to stay temporarily in Be’er Sheva. Nelly had heard about First Home in the Homeland and contacted the program director, who immediately met them in Be’er Sheva and gave them money, SIM cards, and – most importantly – assurance that they would be cared for.


Just two weeks after leaving their homes, Nelly, Olga, and Ruslan were comfortably settled in an apartment at Kibbutz Revivim, and registered for Hebrew classes. “Only now do we feel better. There are people protecting us and giving us hope for the future.” Nelly noted, “It’s hard to think about what we went through, and harder to think about those not able to flee. But I’m grateful to this kibbutz, and to The Jewish Agency. This is the best place to recover and start a new life.”


Nelly works at Ben Gurion Airport and lives in Be’er Sheva near her son. Olga and Ruslan live in Ashdod with Olga’s mother; she works two jobs while studying Hebrew, and Ruslan is in 7th grade. Both women say that they miss their husbands, but are doing ok and overcoming their challenges.

JFNA Update 1/13 - A secret operation, funded by Jewish Federations, to provide crucial generators to Ukrainian Jews to help them survive the winter, became public this week. The Jewish Relief Network Ukraine is distributing 150 generators to schools, community centers and synagogues. The generators are especially needed because of the Russian airstrikes that have knocked out large portions of the electric grid across the country. For more, click here.

1.13.23 Beginning this week through April, we’re ensuring 700-800 Jews from various cities in Ukraine will share in the peace of a twelve-day respite from the frigid cold and ongoing conflict as they visit Szarvas, our flagship JDC-Lauder International Jewish Summer Camp in Hungary. This effort – a crucial expansion of our current winter survival initiative – will provide a warm and safe space for Ukrainian Jews who’ve been braving daily and widespread outages of power, heat, and internet. Over six sessions, participants will enjoy the newly renovated and winterized Szarvas facility while engaging in programs to heal body and soul. They will be treated to delicious kosher food and a range of activities, including dance and yoga, movies and music, Jewish educational and cultural activities, and psychological support. They will have weekly Shabbat experiences and excursions to a zoo, arboretum, and cities like Budapest. These efforts will be supported by our wonderful Europe and FSU professionals as well as volunteers from the Hungarian Jewish community.



11.16.22 Update from IsraAID



11.14.22 Update from Taube Center  

Inside the War: Humanitarian Action to Eastern Ukraine

Jakub Lysiak Taube Center's General Manager


According to the most recent update provided by Poland’s Border Guard, over 7.43 million Ukrainian refugees have entered Poland since February 24, and around 5.6 million have left. Not everyone wants to stay in Poland or other countries where they’ve taken refuge; many people feel disconnected from their families and from reality. However, almost 25% of those who have decided to stay in Poland are hoping to make it their long-term home. They face many challenges and will need support to rebuild their lives here from scratch. More.



11.3.22 Update from ORT: As attacks across Ukraine continue, ORT took the critical step to evacuate students, teachers, and their families from some of the worst-affected areas. With ORT schools in Zaporizhzhia, less than 15 kilometers from the front line, and in Odesa, hundreds of our students and their families are in constant danger. While many thousands of our students have left their home cities in the past eight months, many remain and are seeking shelter.



Update from Leket Israel, food insecurity and Ukranian refugees


There are currently 30,000 Ukrainian refugees living in Israel. Approximately 50% of them are eligible for citizenship under the Law of Return.   Upon arrival, most people moved in with family or friends (past immigrants from Ukraine) or were housed in hotels funded by the government.  As a consequence, initial demand for support on nonprofit organization(NPOs) was minimal.


Unfortunately, as time progresses this situation is changing. There is a limit to the assistance friends and family can provide; this together with the refugees’ desire to begin a new independent life is creating financial strain.


For many of those eligible for citizenship, language difficulties are limiting their job opportunities.  For the others, their refugee status does not include a work permit. Subsequently, with little or no money available, many of those who have arrived in Israel over the past 5 months are now turning to food NPOs or refugee support NPOs for help.


Over the past month, Leket has commenced providing produce to the Shimon Bar Yochai food provision NPO in Ramle and two refugee support NPOs working through Chabad Jerusalem and Pesia’s Kitchen in Tel Aviv.  Through these three organizations, we are currently providing over 400 refugees at risk with 10 lbs. of produce each week. The weekly cost to Leket Israel to rescue, store and redistribute the 4,000 lbs. of produce is $720, or $0.18 per lb. 


Although the numbers have not been determined, it is clear that Leket is supporting additional refugees through its 260 partner agencies. 


8.4.22 Update from ORT


ORT is preparing for their seven schools in Ukraine to start the new year on September 1st with a great deal of uncertainty.  Two will be opening with only distance learning, due to being in the current firing line.  Three schools will be opening that have bomb shelters.  It is unsure what will happen with the other two schools. 
They estimate that between one-third to half the students have been displaced.  They also are working at replacing teachers of Jewish subjects that have been displaced. 

JDC's newest accommodation point in Moldova

The Jewish Federation of Ocean County has already sent funds to provide immediate relief in this crisis. Our overseas philanthropic partners have stepped up to help the Jewish community at risk in Ukraine and those who have now become refugees elsewhere in Europe.


Our partners at the JDC, the primary Jewish social service agency in eastern Europe, work in more than 1,000 locations across Ukraine, providing a lifeline for an estimated 40,000 Jewish elderly and 2,500 poor Jewish children and their families through its network of care services, Jewish community programs, and Jewish leaders. Today, they are:


· Continuing to provide those they serve with extra essentials like food and medicine.


· Coordinating and handling displaced persons including arranging transport and accommodations in Western Ukraine, Moldova and across Europe.


· Activating online platforms and hotlines created during the pandemic in Ukraine, while also launching new hotlines in Moldova and Israel staffed by Russian-speaking volunteers, to deliver remote care and maintain human connection with those they serve. In addition, JOINTECH, the remote care tech initiative launched in 2020 to help combat loneliness among isolated Jewish seniors during the pandemic, is now being used for Shabbat and community programming to provide reprieve during this crisis


· Engaging and readying volunteers, staff and network of Hesed social service centers to address emerging needs as events unfold.


· Coordinating emergency response with other agencies on the ground to ensure critical assistance reaches Jews of all ages in distress across the region.


Israel's government estimates that around 10,000 Ukrainians will immigrate to Israel in the coming weeks. In a particularly moving incident, Israel sent diplomats to the border to assist a group of 150 Ukrainian Jewish orphans without official documents, traveling with a group of 250 other Jews out of Odessa. Our partners at the Jewish Agency is on the ground, assisting Ukrainian Jews looking to make Aliyah to Israel quickly and safely.


The latest update from our partners at Jewish Agency for Israel: 

They continue to operate 18 facilities at 5 different border crossings with thousands of refugees, many of whom will make Aliyah. Some have come on the almost 300 buses coordinated with local organizations while some have come on trains by themselves; most arrive with just the clothes on their backs.

And our partners at Hillel International have mobilized to:


· Provide critical supplies for Hillels in Germany and Poland to provide food, water and medicine for Jewish refugees between the ages of 18-36, as well as mental health support and counseling


· Offer emergency assistance to support Hillel professionals and their families who have been displaced or left without homes


· Convert Hillel spaces in these communities into temporary housing, including bathrooms, showers, blankets, pillows and mattresses for Jewish students and young adults displaced by the conflict


· Enable continued operations and security upgrades for Hillels across Europe so that they can continue to support students while meeting the urgent needs of refugees


Hillel has been transforming the lives of Jewish college students in Ukraine and in Eastern and Central Europe for more than 25 years, empowering a generation of young adults along their Jewish journeys. Hillel serves students in five cities in Ukraine and a total of 15,000 students at 24 Hillels across the region, in countries like France, Poland, Germany, Moldova, and Georgia.


Our partners are seeking to raise more than $20 Million to address initial urgent needs. Please help us help them. Make your contribution today!



Read more:


Updates from JFNA


Finding the joy of Purim for Ukrainian Jews  – eJewish Philanthropy


My journeys in and out of Ukraine, the angels who help, the uncertainty at the end | The Times of Israel


No way out for 130 Jewish families who want to leave Kherson | The Times of Israel


In Moldova, Ukrainian Jews anxiously wait out war in synagogues and Jewish centers | The Times of Israel



Fleeing Russia's invasion, Ukraine's Jewish refugees look to the future - The Jerusalem Post (



JDC’s Ukraine Response | JDC



Chabad-Lubavitch at the Epicenter of Humanitarian Relief in Ukraine - Rising to meet a myriad of challenges as Ukrainian Jewry disperses - Chabad-Lubavitch News



In complex rescue mission, 100 Jewish foster children escape Ukraine - Israel News -



Hillel working to help students from Ukraine as Kharkiv chapter is destroyed in bombing | The Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle (



Long bus rides, temporary shelters and lots of phone calls: Inside the Jewish response to the mounting refugee crisis in Poland - Jewish Telegraphic Agency (



Jewish Agency Operations At Ukraine's Borders | The Jewish Agency



Jewish aid groups on the Ukrainian border are preparing for the long haul – eJewish Philanthropy

A Ukrainian synagogue turns into a bomb shelter - CNN


Risking life and limb, Hesed network continues caring for Ukraine's neediest Jews | The Times of Israel


A first-hand account of escape from Ukraine | Avi Baumol | The Blogs (

80 year old Ukranian enlists to fight