The Lifesaving Work of Federations’ Core Historic Partners

The first post in this series described Jewish Federations’ investments before the Ukraine crisis and fundraising and allocations since the crisis began. The second post detailed the collective impact of Jewish Federations’ emergency allocations.  

Jewish Federations were prepared to respond immediately and effectively to the crisis in Ukraine because we were on the ground in Ukraine and surrounding countries before the crisis through the work of our core historic partners.   

For decades, Jewish Federations have supported the work of The Jewish Agency for Israel, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), and World ORT in the Former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe to revitalize Jewish life, care for the elderly and disabled, and facilitate the Aliyah of those who chose to move to Israel.  

Each year, Jewish Federations invest over $100 million in core, unrestricted funding to The Jewish Agency, JDC, and World ORT.  These core funds ensure that these international organizations have the infrastructure to support flourishing Jewish communities wherever Jews live and to respond to whatever emergencies may come.

In providing in-depth information about the Ukraine crisis response by Jewish Federations’ core historic partners, this post tells the story of how their deep knowledge, expertise, relationships, and professional and volunteer resources have enabled them to rescue and care for refugees starting as soon as the crisis begin.

The Mishna teaches that “anyone who saves a life is as if he [or she] saved an entire world” (Sanhedrin 4:5).  The statistics below show the reach of The Jewish Agency, JDC, and World ORT in their Ukraine crisis response – with tens of thousands of people evacuated, housed, fed, and treated, as well as over twenty-five thousand brought to Israel on Aliyah.  

This critical work is done one person at a time.  Together, Jewish Federations are impacting tens of thousands of lives – with each person helped the equivalent of saving an entire world.  

  1. The Jewish Agency for Israel
Special Hotline – Calls Received 40,704 from Ukraine 67,958 from other countries in the region
Evacuations 13,229  
Beds in Shelters 99 in Ukraine 348 outside of Ukraine
Aliyah 38,742 new Aliyah inquiries 25,274 made Aliyah
Torenu – Supply Collection 23,000 boxes collected
(6000 held in Israel for new olim)

Data as of June 13, 2022

Funds Raised: The Jewish Agency has raised $53,173,100: $16,318,300 from Jewish Federations, $18,800,000 from Keren Hayesod, and $18,054,800 from individuals and foundations.  

Background on Organization: 

The Jewish Agency was established in 1929 as an instrument of the World Zionist Organization to oversee the establishment of the Jewish Homeland in the Land of Israel. The Jewish Agency’s role fundamentally changed in 1948 with the establishment of the state.

With a presence on the ground in over 65 countries, The Jewish Agency works to ensure every Jewish person feels an unbreakable bond to one another and to Israel. The organization focuses its efforts primarily on three strategic areas of impact: facilitating Aliyah globally, connecting Jews to Israel and each other and strengthening Israeli society.

Pre-Invasion Presence in Ukraine: The Jewish Agency has been actively involved in Ukraine since its independence in 1991, and was present prior to that time in an unofficial capacity in cooperation with Nativ, an arm of the Office of the Prime Minister of Israel that worked in support of Soviet Jewry since the 1950s. Over 45,000 Jews have made Aliyah from Ukraine since 2014, of whom 3,000 came in 2021, which includes 800-1,000 participants in various young adult programs such as Na'ale, Masa Israel Journey, Selah, and Lone Soldiers. In addition, The Jewish Agency conducted eight Sunday Schools, 108 Ulpanim (Hebrew language education), and ran seasonal and summer camps for some 1,300 participants. There were 29 Jewish Agency Shlichim (Israeli emissaries), and some 90 local employees in Ukraine. The Jewish Agency has had a presence all over the country, concentrated in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odessa and Dnipro.

Scope of Work: With the onset of the Russo-Ukrainian War, the organization restructured its presence in Ukraine and in the surrounding countries that are receiving refugees. The Jewish Agency has 3 staff people working in Ukraine. Outside of Ukraine, 24 staff members and 8 volunteers are working in Poland, Romania, Hungary, and Moldova.  Most Shlichim and their families have returned to Israel, while the senior Shlichim remain in Ukraine to oversee evacuation and Aliyah preparation as well as assist with local community needs.

The Jewish Agency has evacuated 13,229 people on 455 buses.

While 3,000 people made Aliyah in 2021, it is projected to increase substantially in 2022. There is also a marked increase in calls from Russia, Belarus and other countries in the region. The Jewish Agency has already received 38,742 Aliyah requests and 25,274 people have made Aliyah – both numbers are likely to increase. The organization has established a special hotline – as of June 13, there have been 40,704 calls from Ukraine and 56,320 from other countries.

It is not possible to make Aliyah directly from Ukraine at this time. All potential olim must travel to one of the countries receiving refugees and travel from there. Six temporary housing stations have been opened in neighboring countries (Poland, Romania, Moldova, and Hungary) and near Lviv, Ukraine. There are 600 Jewish Agency beds available in Ukraine, with 99 currently filled. Outside of Ukraine, 1,662 beds are available in Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Poland, and Ukraine. Of these, 348 are currently filled.

The Jewish Agency is also recruiting 2,500 teens/young adults from Ukraine for programs in Israel this year through Masa.

The many young adult Ukrainians on various Jewish Agency programs in Israel who have been cut off from their families are receiving various support services as well as help locating their families. The Jewish Agency is ready to facilitate their families’ prompt Aliyah should they wish to do so.

Torenu (Our Turn) is a Jewish Agency campaign in partnership with the Federation of Local Authorities in Israel mobilizing the Israeli public to collect basic necessities for distribution at the organization’s centers in Ukraine and surrounding countries. 

  1. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC)
People Served (prewar) Over 37,000 elderly (over 8,900 of whom received homecare) Over 2,600 children at risk
People Served (during war) 36,385 refugees in neighboring countries and a large part of the 37,000 elderly in Ukraine  
Food, Shelter, and Medical Assistance Over 20,000 housed, 48,123 fed, 2,811 received medicine/medical assistance 477 tons of humanitarian aid
Evacuations 12,702  
Emergency Hotlines 18,110 incoming calls + 38,883 outgoing calls 11 hotlines
Non-Sectarian Medical Support 6,077 people treated through the Israeli Field Hospital 7,200 people treated by JDC-NATAN medical team near the Polish-Ukrainian border
Non-Sectarian support for non-Jewish evacuees in Israel Coordinate services and provide assistance to over 15,000 non-Jewish evacuees in Israel  

Data as of June 9, 2022

Funds Raised: JDC had raised $67 million: $19,521,300 from Jewish Federations and $47,478,700 from foundations and individuals.

About the Organization: Founded in 1914, JDC is the leading global Jewish humanitarian organization, working in 70 countries to lift lives and strengthen communities. JDC rescues Jews in danger, provides aid to vulnerable Jews, develops innovative solutions to Israel’s most complex social challenges, cultivates a Jewish future, and leads the Jewish community’s response to crises. JDC carries out its global mission of saving Jewish lives and building Jewish life in a nonpolitical, nonpartisan fashion and is guided by the principles of pluralism, sustainability, professionalism, and cooperation.

Pre-invasion Presence in Ukraine: Prior to the Russian invasion, JDC’s work in Ukraine included providing humanitarian aid to over 37,000 elderly Jews and supporting programs for over 2,600 children at-risk of the Jewish community. Over the past decade, JDC built a volunteer force of 3,400 individuals who assisted 13,000 people across Ukraine. JDC’s presence in Ukraine includes four field offices (in Dnipro, Odesa, Kyiv, and Kharkiv) and 18 Hesed humanitarian aid centers reaching poor Jews and Jewish communities in 1,000 locations across the country.

Beginning in November 2021, JDC began to prepare for the crisis.  JDC worked to map needs, especially among the most vulnerable individuals, to be ready for an escalation.  They prepared and equipped the people that they serve, their staff, and Hesed social welfare centers for a range of potential scenarios and emerging needs.  JDC readied volunteers and staff to maintain the online platforms and hotlines created during the COVID pandemic to ensure remote care and maintain human connection with those they serve on the ground.

Scope of Activity: JDC now has 3,816 staff members (including homecare workers) and 787 volunteers working in Ukraine and 79 staff members, 20 volunteers, and 2 doctors/medics working in surrounding countries, as well as 10 staff members in Israel working on Ukraine crisis relief.  JDC’s emergency response includes the following activities:

  1. Evacuations within and outside Ukraine: JDC, working with community partners, has evacuated 12,702 Jews from Ukraine to other countries.  JDC has transported 19,758 refugees within European countries, assisted over 38,219 Jewish refugees, and provided shelter for over 20,000 displaced Jews in Europe, food to 48,123, and medicine/medical assistance to 2,811.  JDC has provided 475 tons of humanitarian aid.  These operations have been carried out in collaboration with leaders in Ukrainian Jewish communities, The Jewish Agency for Israel, Chabad, and additional partners currently on the ground. 
  2. Greeting refugees: JDC is staffing key border crossings along with European community partners and volunteers to embrace, inform, and assist refugees fleeing harm’s way. 
  3. Safe facilities and accommodations for fleeing displaced Jews: JDC is assisting fleeing displaced Jews, in partnership with European Jewish communities and volunteer corps.  JDC secured five safe locations in Ukraine that are currently out of the line of fire. These locations house up to 320 of the most vulnerable Jews in Ukraine who are unable to support themselves during this crisis; 289 of these beds are currently occupied.  JDC has 541 beds available in Moldova, Poland, Hungary and Romania, of which 455 are currently occupied.  Some of these accommodations are short term, while others are longer. 

    Moldova is serving as a transition point to other European countries or for those waiting to make Aliyah.  JDC volunteers are at refugee gathering points, transit hotels, and other accommodations.  JDC convened all 22 Jewish and Israeli organizations currently operating on the ground in Moldova. This has enabled faster and more coordinated response to different issues faced by the refugees.
  4. Support for those not in shelters: JDC is prepared to provide basic necessities (food, medicine) for Jews who are displaced, but not living in JDC shelters.  
  5. Aid to vulnerable individuals: JDC is providing urgent basic needs, like food and medicine, to families and elderly individuals (existing and new clients) who are in financial turmoil as a result of Ukraine’s turbulent and uncertain economy. Prior to the conflict, there were 21,500 elderly Jews who are not Nazi victims in Ukraine living on approximately $4 a day. The invasion has dramatically decreased their ability to purchase sufficient food and medicine. To offset inflation and ease war-related stress and angst, JDC is providing food and medicine to the most vulnerable Jews in Ukraine. Additionally, prior to the invasion, JDC advanced three months’ worth of financial assistance, so that the most vulnerable Jews in Ukraine have a financial anchor as they weather this horrible storm.  Prior to the invasion, JDC provided homecare to over 8,900 elderly Jews.  As of March 16, JDC was able to continue providing homecare services to 70% of this population.  JDC, in partnership with the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, provided medical evacuation for 100 frail Holocaust survivors from Ukraine. 

    JDC is also anticipating providing financial assistance to individuals who before the war were economically self-sufficient but our now newly vulnerable.
  6. Emergency hotlines:  JDC launched emergency hotlines in different languages for people in Ukraine, Poland, Moldova, Romania, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia, Bulgaria, Israel, Germany, and Hungary. These call centers are fielding calls from Jews who are in dire need of material assistance, and many of whom are seeking ways to flee to safer areas.  JDC received 6,257 calls on the hotlines from Ukraine and 11,853 from other countries and made 38,883 calls to Ukraine.  Over 70% of the requests are for food, medicine, and evacuation (other needs include: equipment loans, warming products, psychological support, requests for information, and more).  Most calls are from and to JDC existing clients, while some calls are from other community members.
  7. Support to Ukrainian Jewish community organizations: Recognizing the importance of supporting local Jewish organizations during the war, as well as in its aftermath, JDC is assisting Jewish organizations to maintain their critical operations while they endure immense war-related challenges
  8. Non-sectarian assistance: JDC is working with the Ukrainian Jewish community to build and launch a non-sectarian response alongside its current operation.  JDC is working to identify key addresses, including hospitals, where there is clear and dire need. JDC will transport humanitarian aid, food, and medications to relief organizations lacking these essential and life-saving supplies.  

JDC supported the establishment of an Israeli Field Hospital in Mostyska, Ukraine, which opened on March 22 that assisted 6,077 refugees fleeing Ukraine.  JDC supplied the field hospital with telemedicine devices that remotely monitor vital signs and allowed doctors to diagnose and recommend treatment.  JDC has delivered 128 telemedicine devices and trained 50 local healthcare professionals to use the technology so that it can continue helping people on the ground after JDC’s work ends.

JDC is working in collaboration with NATAN, an Israeli volunteer organization that sends medical professionals into emergency disaster zones. Together, JDC and NATAN have deployed a team comprised of Israeli medical professionals including doctors, nurses, and social workers who have traveled from Israel to Poland to assist in the relief efforts. The Polish Red Cross has designated the JDC-NATAN medical team to manage the clinic at the Przemysl Refugee Intake Center, just 13 kilometers from the Ukrainian border. These medical professionals have provided emergency care to more than 7,200 refugees as they, mostly women and children, come over the Polish border. Every twelve days the delegation of healthcare professionals will rotate to take the place of the one currently in the field. This clinic will be on the ground for six months.

Through conversations with the UN cluster system and local municipal partners, JDC identified a need for assistive medical equipment and supplied 210 wheelchairs and 320 pairs of crutches.

Additionally, JDC has been asked by Israel’s Ministry of Welfare and Social Affairs to coordinate efforts for the integration of non-Jewish refugees in Israel. This will include setting up a hotline to provide resources and guidance for refugees, as well as working with NGOs to coordinate efforts, organize volunteers, facilitate in-kind donations, and respond to needs as they arise. 

  1. World ORT
ORT students, teachers, staff, and their families in Ukraine (prewar) 8,437
Food in Ukraine 3,547 
Medicine/Medical Assistance in Ukraine 707
Financial Assistance in Ukraine 683

Data as of June 15, 2022

Funds Raised: ORT raised $2,078,600: $623,700 from Jewish Federations, $465,000 from foundations and other organizations, and $989,900 from individual donors.

About the Organization: World ORT is a global Jewish educational organization. For more than 140 years, ORT has offered access to educational programs in under-resourced communities.  The ORT network reaches more than 200,000 people a year in schools, universities, and vocational training programs in 39 countries.

Pre-invasion Presence in Ukraine: ORT’s regional office in Kyiv oversees five schools and two affiliated schools in six Ukrainian cities: Zaporizhzhia, Dnipro, and Odesa in the eastern and southern regions; and Chernivtsi, Kyiv, and Bila Tserkva in the north and west. ORT’s KesherNet training centers support predominantly unemployed women to learn new job skills and improve their economic status.  Prewar there were 8,437 ORT students, teachers, staff, and their families in Ukraine.

Scope of Activity:  ORT Ukraine schools stopped all in-person learning at the end of February. Relocated students abroad or in other Ukrainian cities attended online lessons provided by ORT Ukraine schools from late March through the end of the academic year (May 31). ORT Ukraine school principals report that 50% of the families from the schools have left their homes, either moving abroad or to the Western part of Ukraine. ORT is reinforcing the safety of ORT schools- with a focus on fortifying the buildings and equipping shelters.  ORT is also providing food and other supplies, financial aid, medicine, and paramedic assistance, as well as transport, for its students, teachers, staff, and their families.  The ORT school in Zaporizhzhia has become a hub for humanitarian assistance for refugees from the besieged city of Mariupol.  ORT currently has nine staff members in Ukraine and three who are still abroad.

ORT is working with ORT professionals and Jewish community leaders in European countries to support the needs of incoming ORT refugees.  ORT refugees are being housed and schooled in Moldova, Bulgaria, and the Baltic states.  An initial 24 Ukrainian refugees have arrived at ORT’s Kfar Silver Youth Village in Israel, with an additional 25 expected over the summer.  At the Youth Village, ORT staff meet all the refugees’ needs beyond those addressed by the government.  This includes providing them with shelter, education, emotional support, food, and basic necessities.

The next post will provide detailed information on the Ukraine crisis response activities of other organizations receiving Federations’ collective allocations.


Add Comment
Subscribe to posts