After 98 days of fighting, the war continues in Ukraine with no end in sight. While the US and UK promise more support for the country, millions of Ukrainians, including tens of thousands of Jews, have fled, many to Israel. Jewish Federations and our partners continue to work together to ensure that urgent relief reaches the neediest. (For pre-crisis background , as well as information on the Jewish community in Ukraine, see here).
- According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, some 60 - 100 Ukrainian soldiers are killed every day in the fighting, as well as around 500 others who are wounded.
- Zelensky also said that shipments of grain are being blocked by Russia in the Black Sea. “Currently, 22.5 million tons of grain are being blocked by Russia. In order to unblock this territory with an exit to the sea, with an exit to water, with an exit to our people, we need to fight and we need to have weapons with effective ranges as far as 120-140 kilometers (75-85 miles).”
- Meanwhile United States President Joe Biden has announced that the US will provide High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) as part of an aid package to Ukraine. However, the systems only have a range of about 44 miles. The US is resisting the request for longer range rockets, due to concerns they would be capable of striking Russian territory, thereby potentially escalating the war.
- At the same time, the United Kingdom said that it will send M270 multiple rocket launchers, able to strike targets up to 50 miles away, offering “a significant boost in capability for the Ukrainian forces,” according to a statement from the British Foreign Office.
- In response, Russia's foreign minister said Ukraine's demands to the West regarding the supply of advanced rocket launchers go beyond “all limits and decency” and is a “direct provocation.” The US insists that Ukraine has pledged not to use the new weapons against targets in Russia itself.
- According to Ukrainian officials, street fighting continues in the eastern city of Severodonetsk but Russian forces now occupy about 80% of the area. According to the officials, the remaining parts of the Luhansk region still under Ukrainian control were under constant shelling.
- The UN Human Rights Council says that some 6.80 million refugees have fled Ukraine since the beginning of fighting. More than 2.23 million refugees who initially fled Ukraine have since returned. See here for an overall mapping of the situation of Ukrainian refugees in the neighboring countries. For details on where Ukrainian refugees have been fleeing to, see here.
Mosaic United, created and partly sponsored by the Government of Israel, has announced that it is issuing a request for proposals to sponsor summer camp experiences for Ukrainian Jewish refugees, offering up to $1 million in funding. According to Israel’s Minister of Diaspora Affairs Nachman Shai, “When any part of our global Jewish people is suffering, it is our responsibility to take action. Mosaic United’s summer camp initiative is another demonstration of Israel’s solidarity with Ukrainian Jews.” See more here.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are currently completing a month-long series of war games called “Chariots of Fire,” which aims to simulate a prolonged war along all of Israel’s borders, and is trying to learn lessons from the conflict in Ukraine. Thousands of soldiers and reservists are taking part in the drill which includes simulated massive rocket fire on the home front.
According to IDF spokespeople, the Israeli military continues to learn from the Russia-Ukraine conflict and is applying those lessons. The IDF set up teams in March to gather information and intelligence from the war, in the areas of combat methods and doctrine, ground maneuvers, logistics, air defense and intelligence, as well as anti-tank, cyber, electronic and psychological warfare and more. According to the IDF, the teams are also studying the use of social media and fake news and how they affect the war and international opinion.
REFUGEES, FEDERATIONS, AND PARTNERS ON THE GROUND
An estimated 50,000 Jews have been displaced since the start of the war in Ukraine, most of whom have decided to remain in Europe.
Jewish Federations continue to raise money for Ukraine relief efforts, and have collectively raised more than $64.3 million since the fighting began – more than triple the initial goal set on February 24th, 2022, the day that war broke out. Click here to see a presentation about the allocations process for these funds. Through both directed and collective grant making, Federations are supporting over 46 NGO’s that are operating on the ground in Ukraine and neighboring countries. This includes Jewish Federation partners, The Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), and World ORT; as well as United Hatzalah, Hillel International, Nefesh B'Nefesh, HIAS, the Israel Trauma Coalition, Hadassah Medical Organization, Chabad, Shma Yisrael, Project Kesher, JCC Krakow, Jewish Community Vienna, the Emergency Volunteer Program and others. See here for an article on where Federation funding for Ukraine has gone.
Later today, Jewish Federations will hold a webinar that will provide a detailed guide to helping Ukrainians resettle in the US after escaping the war. With instructions, resources, and actionable takeaways, this webinar will help participants support Ukrainians’ ongoing needs. (Today, Thursday June 2, at 3:00 pm ET. Register here). JFNA’s Ukraine webinars now take place once a week, on Mondays. To register, please click here.
Federations continue to run a volunteer hub in support of refugees fleeing Ukraine in partnership with the Jewish Agency, JDC and IsraAID. To volunteer for this program (please note that only those who speak Russian and/or Ukrainian are being selected at this time), click here.
In a Jewish News Service (JNS) op-ed, JFNA’s Senior Vice President for Public Affairs Elana Broitman lays out what the government can do to help Ukraine’s refugees. For more information on Federations’ efforts in Ukraine, click on this Crisis in Ukraine page.
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) continues to help Jews in need across Ukraine. Since the start of the war, some 900 volunteers have played a vital role in JDC's Ukrainian assistance efforts, helping over 17,000 people across Ukraine. These volunteers take on a wide array of responsibilities, from unloading shipments of humanitarian aid, to preparing hot meals, to packing and delivering food, medicine, and personal products to isolated and ailing elderly. In some places, volunteers deliver food and medicine under threat of bombing, risking their own lives to help others.
Volunteers also regularly check in on elderly Hesed welfare recipients and run activities to help Ukrainians of all ages find emotional respite from the war. One group of volunteers from Lviv painted a large sunflower mural to raise the city's spirits.
The Jewish Agency for Israel continues to coordinate mass relief efforts and enable Aliyah for the Jewish community in Ukraine. More than 21,000 people have made Aliyah from the region since the outbreak of hostilities.
The Jewish Agency and JDC have both established emergency hotlines to assist the Jewish community in Ukraine. For more about JDC’s efforts, see here; for those of the Jewish Agency, here.
The Israel Trauma Coalition (ITC), a federation partner, has been carrying out extensive relief efforts as a result of the war in Ukraine:
ITC supports a virtual community of approximately 2,500 Ukrainian trauma professionals, including doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers. The aim is to develop a significant professional cadre, composed of Ukrainian trauma specialists.
- Training consists of on-line lectures in small groups led by a team of Russian and Ukrainian-speaking experts from Israel, Ukraine (trained by ITC in 2014) and around the world.
- Topics include trauma among victims of sexual assault, provision of remote response, grief counselling and treatment of child trauma. So far, 55 groups have participated in 6 online workshops.
- Some 30 Ukrainian police psychologists have been trained by ITC with an emphasis on self-preservation and reducing attrition.
- More than 120 psychologists from Ukraine’s Ministry of Emergency Management are being trained to provide emotional first aid, self-care and reducing attrition.
- ITC is training the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice’s psychologists to provide support for the Ministry’s investigators and attorneys who collect evidence of war crimes and are exposed to the most difficult cases.
- ITC is also training staff of institutions and dormitories for refugee children in Ukraine on issues of child trauma, loss and bereavement, identification of trauma and resilience.
ITC is also providing training in grief and bereavement work for Ukrainian social workers, teachers, health, education and welfare workers, through the establishment of regional training centers. ITC’s training includes a focus on treatment for women and children who have been sexually assaulted; treatment of combat victims and wounded soldiers; trauma treatment for children (with an emphasis on preparing for the upcoming school year); the establishment of regional training centers in three districts of Ukraine - Kharkiv, Ternopil and Khmelnytsky - where ITC will develop training programs, lesson plans and aids, preparation, consultation and guidance in the initial stages.
The ERAN organization, an ITC partner, provides professional support and guidance to hotline operators and provides reinforcement through the provision of ERAN volunteers and professionals.
In addition, ITC has written and distributed professional materials in various languages (including English, Ukrainian, Russian) to teams working with refugees, volunteers, caregivers, and logistics personnel.
ITC has also been active in the countries surrounding Ukraine. This work has included training staff at refugee absorption sites (volunteers, center managers, social workers, community leaders, support professionals-nurses and teachers) in emotional first aid, trauma care and self-care tools, team preservation and reduction of attrition. ITC also provides professional support, with an emphasis on self-preservation, to teams from the Jewish Agency and JDC, including psychosocial preparation and post-return processing meetings for local envoys and staff of the Jewish Agency and JDC.
At the same time ITC is providing support for Jewish communities volunteering to absorb refugees in Bulgaria, Poland and the Czech Republic. ITC has prepared and disseminated instructional materials in a variety of languages, including recommendations for parents dealing with distress in children, guidelines for volunteers and a guidebook on trauma and psychosocial assistance for caregivers.
In Israel, ITC provides training for local council teams responsible for the care and support of new immigrants and refugees from Ukraine in providing emotional first aid, identifying trauma and signs of distress, grief and bereavement and self-care tools. ITC also works with immigration and absorption teams (including Jewish Agency teams, government ministries, social workers and educational consultants) that provide support for new immigrants and refugees.
The Chairman of the World Zionist Organization, Yaakov Hagoel, met last week with the Russian Ambassador to Israel, Anatoly Viktorov, at the Russian embassy building in Tel Aviv and presented him with a special report regarding the locations of Jewish heritage sites in Ukraine. In light of the great risk of damage to those sites, Hagoel forwarded a map of important locations to the Russian ambassador in order to avoid as much as possible accidental damage to them.
These are many sites of unique national importance to the Jewish people, among them: memorial sites and monuments to Holocaust victims, for example in Babi Yar, Leviv and Donetsk, Jewish cemeteries, synagogues, tombs of the righteous and more. At the end of the meeting, the Russian ambassador to Israel said that he would forward the report to Moscow immediately.
Among the many Jews on Russia’s latest list of Americans banned entry are three Chabad rabbis, in possible retaliation for Chabad’s decades-long effort to recover texts and artifacts that the Soviets took from the movement. The list of 963 Americans posted Saturday, first reported by Axios, includes Rabbi Avraham Shemtov, the chairman of the executive of the umbrella body, a founder of the Washington office of the movement; Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, the umbrella group’s secretary, who heads the educational and social arms of Chabad-Lubavitch; and Rabbi Shlomo Cunin, a West Coast leader of the movement who is prominent in the branch of the movement seeking the return of the texts.
For more information, please contact Dani Wassner