The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia is closely monitoring the war in Ukraine and is concerned for the safety of all Jews in the region. The entire country faces chaos, scarcity and potential violence, leaving the 200,000 members of Ukraine’s Jewish community especially vulnerable. 

For over a century, whenever and wherever there have been threats to Jewish life, the Jewish Federation and our partners have been there to provide vital aid and remove those in peril out of harm’s way.

For more than three decades, we have partnered with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the Jewish Agency for Israel, World ORT and United Hatzalah, which provide humanitarian assistance and Jewish community-building programs to tens of thousands of Jews throughout the region. Our partners remain in Ukraine, working to ensure the well-being of the Jewish population there.

Their efforts on the ground include:

  • Working around the clock to provide uninterrupted humanitarian aid to 40,000 poor Jewish elderly and families, delivering food, medicine, winter relief and emergency assistance.
  • Mobilizing a network of 6,900 volunteers to reach 51,000 beneficiaries in far-flung locations. This proactively formed network was critical for JDC’s COVID response as well as the 2014 Ukraine crisis.
  • Equipping staff in four field offices (Kyiv, Dnipro, Kharkov, and Odessa) with contingencies to ensure they can continue to reach those in need — especially the homebound — come what may.  
  • Leveraging their vast presence on the ground to prepare for potential emerging needs, including people being displaced from their homes.
  • Preparing to dispatch mobile medical units to get supplies where they are needed most.
  • Bolstering security at Jewish institutions, including JCCs in Kharkov, Odessa, Dnipro, Kyiv, Zaporozhe and Lvov.
  • Coordinating with local Jewish organizations and partners to ensure a united emergency response.

This kind of emergency response is part of our DNA — and we are staying in constant contact with our partners to keep abreast of the latest developments and local needs. It is thanks to your support of the Annual Campaign that this infrastructure is in place to protect and care for these hundreds of thousands of at-risk Jews. In these anxious days, you, quite literally, are a lifeline. 

The exact nature and number of services needed as well as how many people will request or require different forms of assistance is not yet clear, but we are quickly getting a handle on some of the essential infrastructure and costs that these operations will incur.

Though not yet a comprehensive list, as of now, we are aware that:

  • The Jewish Agency is focusing on Aliyah and community security, while JDC is looking to maintain critical welfare services and assist internally displaced people in multiple locations. Both JDC and the Jewish Agency have identified new and immediate needs, including emergency preparations and stockpiling of goods for JDC Heseds, moving the Jewish Agency operation from Kyiv to Lviv, initiating the Jewish Agency Aliyah hotline, securing temporary housing for people in transit, and the purchase of satellite phones to maintain communications across the region.
  • World ORT is reporting an initial need of $100,000 to secure five ORT schools and to ensure that schools and staffs are equipped to respond to emergency needs at the school locations.
  • We have also been approached by United Hatzalah to help support their two local units in Kyiv and Uman and additional medical staff to be deployed to the border with Moldova, as well as Hillel International regarding the five Hillels located in Ukraine.

We are collecting additional information from these and other organizations. We will keep you updated as the situation evolves. If you’d like to support our continued response by making your gift to the Annual Campaign, we would be very grateful. We must remember that whenever and wherever one Jewish is threatened, we are all threatened. While we are vigilant in these troubling times, we join all of those who long for peace.