More than half a year into the conflict, the fighting in Ukraine continues. As the war drags on, Jewish Federations and our partners continue to work together to ensure that urgent relief reaches the neediest, including both refugees who have fled, as well as those remaining in Ukraine
(For pre-crisis background on the Jewish community in Ukraine, see here).
- Israel’s Prime Minister Yair Lapid congratulated Ukrainian President Vlodomyr Zelensky on the occasion of Ukraine’s 31st Independence Day which took place on August 24. The Prime Minister also noted his support of the Ukrainian people. The two leaders discussed the war and Lapid expressed his condolences for those killed and injured, calling for a diplomatic solution in order to end the fighting.
- Tens of thousands of Israelis typically travel to the town of Uman in Ukraine to pray on Rosh Hashanah at the gravesite of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, one of the most popular Hassidic masters. In an official warning, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has now said that citizens should refrain from traveling to the city this year. The Ukrainian Embassy in Israel reiterated the call, saying “Please, avoid coming to Uman on Rosh Hashanah and pray that peace will return to Ukraine and the blessed pilgrimage will be renewed.” See more here.
- As the new school year opened in Israel, only 322 Ukrainian refugee children had been registered for school, out of 3,177 children of refugees in school ages residing in the country. The Welfare and Social Affairs Ministry has sent text messages to all refugees known to them, including a registration form for schools around the country. The Ministry has provided the Education Ministry with the names of some 400 families, including some 500 children, who have yet to be registered. Any child residing in Israel for three months is entitled to a free education like an Israeli child in the jurisdiction of the municipality in which they reside, regardless of their origin or the status of their parents, and whether they are in Israel legally or not. See more here.
- Meanwhile Israel’s Population and Immigration Authority has ordered a teenage girl and her mother to leave the Jewish state within two weeks and return to Ukraine after 10 years in the country. Liza Kozmina, 18, who is in 12th grade and plays for Israel’s national handball team, was in the country legally after her mother, Oksana Kozmina, married an Israeli. However, following his recent death the Ministry revoked their residency and denied a claim for citizenship, saying that the marriage appeared to be “fictitious.” The Authority further said that, “a prolonged stay in Israel does not constitute a humanitarian reason that justifies staying in Israel. Oksana does not have family in Israel except for her daughter, and on the other hand, she has her son and sister, to whom she has maintained a connection, waiting for her in Ukraine.” Meanwhile Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked responded that “these days, there is a policy of ‘non-removal’,” and insisted the pair would not be deported for now.
- In this piece by the Jerusalem Institute for Security and Strategy, Alexander Grinberg discusses the Ukraine War and Iran’s emerging strategy.
REFUGEES, FEDERATIONS, AND PARTNERS ON THE GROUND
Jewish Federations and our partners continue to work together to ensure that urgent relief reaches the neediest, including those refugees who have fled, as well as those remaining in Ukraine, given that close to seven million have been displaced from their homes but remain in the country. See this link for a review of Federations’ relief efforts, that include the $73.5 million raised to date, with $61 million already distributed to Federations’ core partners, The Jewish Agency for Israel, The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), and World ORT, along with over 50 other NGO’s.
Jewish Federations project an additional $46 million in need among partner organizations before the end of this calendar year.
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) continues to help Jews in need across Ukraine and the region, supported by Federation emergency allocations.
Over 3,200 Jewish teens from 60 cities across the former Soviet Union take part in Active Jewish Teens (AJT): JDC's flagship teen network. The program, designed to grow Jewish involvement and leadership among teens in the former Soviet Union, is still active in Ukraine where 115 youth from across the country took part in a special seminar. Some participants came from quieter areas, while others traveled from the heart of the conflict. At the seminar, they took part in Jewish learning and leadership development activities, and enjoyed amenities, including a pool and ropes course that offered the teens a chance to relax after months of threat, fear, and anxiety. And a team of psychologists – including one from Israel and three from Ukraine – were on-hand to offer emotional support and relief to the teens struggling with trauma.
Meanwhile over the first six months of the conflict, JDC has:
- Safely evacuated 12,900 Jews from Ukraine.
- Provided vital necessities, like food, medicine, and psychosocial support to more than 39,000 refugees.
- Delivered more than 617 tons of humanitarian aid to Jews in Ukraine and those who have fled to Moldova.
The Jewish Agency for Israel continues to coordinate mass relief efforts and enable Aliyah for the Jewish community in Ukraine.
Over the first six months of the conflict:
- 12,633 olim have arrived in Israel from Ukraine. In addition, 21,772 olim have arrived from Russia and Belarus. In total, more than 34,000 olim people have been welcomed to Israel in six months.
- The Agency has received 128,799 calls to hotlines giving Ukrainian Jews guidance and information regarding the Aliyah process, as well as general assistance for members of the Jewish community in Ukraine.
- The Agency has also organized 455 buses which rescued 13,742 people from conflict zones, taking them to the Romanian, Polish, Hungarian and Moldovan borders.
- The Jewish Agency engaged over 450 volunteers to help refugees in six transit centers in countries bordering Ukraine.
- All refugee hotels had an on-site doctor and nurse to offer medical care. Some 3,000 hours of medical and mental health care were provided for all who needed it – including refugees as well as Jewish Agency staff and volunteers.
- Three meals a day have been provided to all refugees staying in hotels in Eastern Europe, for a total of 290,000 meals.
- The Jewish Agency’s “Torenu” (Our Turn) campaign collected clothing and toiletries for Ukrainian refugees from Israeli citizens. In total, 354 tons of supplies were distributed to refugees in need at Agency centers.
- $514,800 grants were distributed to 95 organizations in Ukraine through The Jewish Agency Emergency Security Fund.
- Throughout the summer, in Israel and across Europe, 3,121 Ukrainian children and teenagers have been served by Agency summer camps.
For more about JDC’s efforts, see here; for those of the Jewish Agency, see here.
An Israeli-Ukrainian teenager has made a “remarkable recovery” in Jerusalem, three months after being airlifted from Ukraine when she was deep in a coma and thought to have a tiny chance of survival. As the health system crumbled around her in Ukraine this spring, Anna Kosma was having several seizures a day. Local doctors had given the 18-year-old medicine that temporarily paralyzed her. Anna was flown to Ben Gurion Airport by the rescue organization Hatzolah Air, after receiving help before her departure from Zaka and United Hatzalah (a recipient of Jewish Federations emergency Ukraine funding). An ambulance was waiting to take her to Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center, where she remained, until now, in the ICU.
OTHER UKRAINE NEWS, UPDATES AND ANALYSIS
- With the war in Ukraine passing the six-month mark, CNN has published a summary list of numbers that tell (part of) the tragic story.
- A Moscow court handed a 15-day prison sentence last week to a liberal Jewish politician who drew parallels between Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s regime and Nazi Germany. Leonid Gozman, 72, was sentenced for a 2020 Facebook post, in which he mocked the Russian legislation that banned likening the Soviet Union to Nazi Germany, saying that “it’s wrong to put an equal mark between them — Hitler was an absolute evil and Stalin even worse.”
- At least 70 Jewish people have been killed in Ukraine since Russia invaded the country in late February, according to data published by the Federation of Jewish Communities of Ukraine (FJCU), but the real number could be more than double that. Israel’s Ynet news site has published a story on the toll the war is taking on the country’s Jewish community. See a translation of the article into English here.
- This Reuters report deals with the impending energy shortages and the harsh winter that Ukrainians face as the war drags on.
- Tablet Magazine discusses here, the emerging Ukrainian counter-offensive against Russia. And Politico assesses that Ukraine has a “good chance” of beating back Russian forces.
- See a New York Times’ piece here on the 50,000 Ukrainians who have arrived in Ireland, the largest number of refugees the country has ever accepted, and how local communities are grappling with how to deal with the new arrivals.
- As the conflict also affects the situation for the Jewish community in Russia, the country’s rabbis have met in emergency session to discuss the situation and the future. See details here.
- Ha’aretz reports that some five months after being hit by EU sanctions, Russian oligarch Moshe Kantor stepped down last week as a controlling member of the European Jewish Fund, a multimillion-dollar charity that funds the European Jewish Congress.
- This NYT article discusses the difficult return to school for Ukrainian children, following the summer vacation.
- In this Jerusalem Post opinion piece, the author argues that Ukrainians and Jews are very similar, and explains why.
- And finally, read here about the linked history of vodka and anti-Semitism!
Jewish Federations continue to monitor the situation in Ukraine closely, and, working with our partners, are offering considerable relief efforts to those most in need.
For more information, please contact: JFNA’s Dani Wassner.