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 organizations (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.
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!
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 (jpost.com)
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 - Haaretz.com
Hillel working to help students from Ukraine as Kharkiv chapter is destroyed in bombing | The Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle (timesofisrael.com)
Long bus rides, temporary shelters and lots of phone calls: Inside the Jewish response to the mounting refugee crisis in Poland - Jewish Telegraphic Agency (jta.org)
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 (timesofisrael.com)