As war between Russia and Ukraine broke out last week, Jewish organizations in Israel and around the world have announced their intentions to assist Israelis in Ukraine and to prepare for the absorption of Jews from Ukraine. Speaking at the 47th Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organization in Jerusalem, Minister of Immigration and Absorption Pnina Tamano-Shata said that “Israel is ready to provide immediate humanitarian aid to Ukraine,” and that there are preparations for the absorption of immigrants from the war zones.
“We were preparing for a crisis in Ukraine and together with Finance Minister [Avigdor] Lieberman we set a budget for accepting immigrants from Ukraine,” said Tamano-Shata. The minister added that Israel is ready to provide immediate humanitarian aid to Ukraine.
As of yesterday, 100 tons of humanitarian aid was on route to Ukraine, including medical supplies, water purification kits, and coats, tents and blankets. Israel has not offered military supplies to Ukraine, despite requests by President Volodymr Zelensky.
As for the Jews of Ukraine, the Tamano-Shata said in her speech addressed to the heads of the major Jewish organizations in North America, “Israel is your home at all times, and even during difficult times. Make aliyah.”
She added that at the beginning of the week, dozens of new immigrants from Ukraine were received in Israel.
“My message to the Jewish community in Ukraine is clear – Israel will always be their home, and we will always be here for them, no matter what,” she said.
Jewish communities in Poland and Moldova to the rescue
The Mizrachi World Movement announced that Jewish communities in Poland will prepare for the absorption of Jews who left Ukraine as early as last Saturday.
Rabbi Doron Perez, the executive chairman of World Mizrachi, said that the movement had been in contact with its representatives in Ukraine, and understood that there were many Jews making their way west.
“In the coming hours, we will connect the communities from which Jewish citizens of Ukraine are being evacuated to the Jewish communities in neighboring countries,” he added.
The Jewish community in Moldova, led by the Chief Rabbi Pinchas Salzman, also announced that the community was ready to receive thousands of Israelis and Jews fleeing the war, having already made extensive preparations for military development between Ukraine and Russia.
As part of their preparation, the Jewish community prepared a fleet of buses to transport people from Ukraine to Moldova with food supplies, pre-rented hotels along with additional shelters to accommodate hundreds of people, and emergency medical staff.
Community members were also sent to the border crossings between Moldova and Ukraine and to the Moldova International Airport to provide immediate emergency assistance to the refugees.
United Hatzalah of Israel, an Israeli volunteer-based emergency medical services organization, sent a delegation of 30 volunteer medical personnel to Moldova to receive and treat civilians fleeing the war in Ukraine. United Hatzalah was asked to form delegation at the request of the Chief Rabbi of Moldova and in coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
United Hatzalah CEO Eli Pollack said in a statement: “The delegation, which includes paramedics and medics, is equipped with medical and humanitarian equipment to provide assistance to those crossing the border from Ukraine. Along with members of the delegation who left Israel for Moldova, United Hatzalah volunteers in Ukraine continue to assist in the fighting zones in the country and provide medical assistance.”
The Hashomer Hatzair youth movement, which operates in several locations around Ukraine with the movement’s largest center in the eastern city of Kharkiv, has announced that it will offer housing and food supplies to all their members and their families in need of assistance.
Emergency centers opened for psychiatric assistance
The Jewish Agency and the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews are currently opening an emergency center for Ukrainian Jews who need guidance regarding the process of immigration to Israel or assistance to those who remain there.
Number for Ukrainians: 0-800-504603 (toll free);
For concerned relatives from Israel: 1-800-228055 Extension 4 (toll free);
NATAL – the Israel Trauma and Resiliency Center – has also opened a helpline for Israelis of Ukrainian descent who need assistance and psychological support. To contact them, call 1-800-363-363
ERAN – Israel’s Emotional first aid service – in cooperation with the Israeli Trauma Coalition, has opened an emergency line for psychological assistance to Israelis living in Ukraine. Line number: 972-76-884-4450
This article was translated from Hebrew by Zak Newbart.