Jewish response to unimaginable war

PHOTO: Eli Buzunov, a JDC coordinator in Kyiv, Ukraine, posted updates from Kyiv on Feb. 25. Here he is in front of an apartment building hit by a Russian Missile. He also posted a YouTube video,, in which he was carrying water to a local shelter but was interrupted by an air raid siren and ran home to take his mother to a shelter.


“Today we focus on saving Jewish lives when the whole of Ukraine is under attack,” said Roman Polonsky of the Jewish Agency for Israel. 
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Jewish community is also helping the general Ukrainian population. JDC’s Hesed Centers have shared medical equipment and supplies with the hospitals treating victims of what was once an unthinkable war.
Polonsky said that 10 years ago he would have thought a Martian invasion of Earth was more likely than a war between Russia and the Ukraine, but now “the unthinkable is happening in the middle of Europe.” 
Polonsky was one of several Federation partners from JAFI, the Joint Distribution Committee and World ORT, who spoke to a March 1 national briefing for Jewish Federations of North America. JFNA has launched a $20 million emergency campaign (see story below) to “meet the extraordinary needs that demand immediate attention,” said JFNA chair Mark Wilf.
Danielle Mor, who works with JAFI in Warsaw, added, “At the border, I saw things I could not imagine would exist in Europe in 2022.”
During a Russian attack on a television tower in Kyiv March 1, the bombs also struck the Babi Yar memorial, which rests on a mass grave containing 34,000 Jews who were slaughtered there in 1941 when the city was under Nazi occupation. The massacre was carried out by SS troops along with local collaborators.
“To the world: what is the point of saying ‘never again’ for 80 years, if the world stays silent when a bomb drops on the same site of Babi Yar? At least 5 killed. History repeating…,” tweeted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is Jewish and had family members die in the Holocaust. 
Mark Levin of the National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry, said, “Now is the time to stand on the right side of history.”
Stefan Oscar of JDC in Odessa spoke of the brutal war where hundreds of people are dying “in a war that was unimaginable just a few days ago.” Adding that things are getting worse, he said the JDC is focused on four areas: staying in communication with staff and those receiving services; continuing social services (including home care to the country’s 16,000 Holocaust survivors, most of whom are homebound and unable to get to shelters); delivering food, medicine and basic supplies; and evacuation (which has become increasingly risky) and support for those refugees who make it over the border.
“Despite the situation in these tragic moments, soon I hope we will be able to meet and discuss recovery and help this thriving Jewish community thrive in the future,” said Oscar.
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Ukraine's Jews need our support

Concerns about the well-being of the Jewish community in Ukraine have accelerated since  Russia invaded. The Ukrainian Jewish community needs our support now. The Jewish Federation of Greater Portland is participating in a continental special campaign effort to assist Jews in the region. So far, JFGP has raised $120,000 to be allocated through JAFI, JDC, World ORT and others on the ground including Moishe House and Hillel.

The campaign will provide critical welfare where it is needed most and support to protect and safeguard Ukraine's Jewish community as well as Jews in neighboring countries.
One hundred percent of your donation goes to those in need. Donate at


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