Russia-Ukraine War: How can you help Ukrainian Jewish refugees?

Want to help Jewish and non-Jewish Ukrainian refugees? Here are eight tips from someone who has been to the Ukrainian border and spoken to Ukrainian refugees.

 Jewish refugees from Ukraine find refuge in Moldova (photo credit: IOSIF SNEGOVIK)
Jewish refugees from Ukraine find refuge in Moldova
(photo credit: IOSIF SNEGOVIK)

During my time on the Ukrainian border and hours of conversations with Ukrainian Jewish refugees, I heard from dozens of individuals and organizations seeking  to help in any way possible.

Here are eight ways you can help the Jews of Ukraine:

1. Donating to large and relevant Jewish organizations

You can donate to Jewish organizations on ground such as the Jewish Agency, JDC, Chabad, IFCJ and fundraising organizations such as The Jewish Federations of North America and Keren Hayesod. Many local communities and organizations have online fundraising campaigns that are easy to find. 

Read more on the Russia-Ukraine War:

2. Equipment for Ukrainian soldiers

You can buy relevant equipment for Ukrainian soldiers who are protecting Jews and Jewish institutions. There are many people on the borders of Ukraine who are going in daily and would be more than happy to distribute. The Ukrainian army has strengthened itself immensely since the 2015 conflict, but there is still lack of equipment of all sorts.

3. Visit a refugee camp, buy them cloths or pharmaceutical items

Do you live in countries that Jewish refugees have been evacuated to? Stop by at the refugee camps in local hotels. Ask them how they're feeling, help them process the trauma they've been through. Try and understand if there is anything they need on a personal basis. Many of the refugees have no clothes to change into, many women need pharmaceutical products. 

 Poland refugee center  (credit: REUTERS) Poland refugee center (credit: REUTERS)

4. Create activities or buy toys for the children of refugees

The children of Ukrainian Jews haven't been to school or kindergarten for about two weeks. Any sort of entertainment, toys or activities can be highly appreciated and useful.

5. Psychological and mental health treatment

Both the adults and children of Ukrainian Jews have been through (and many are still in) traumatic experiences — Whether it be bombings, sirens, lack of stability and fear of future events — these people need help.  Psychological aid is preferred in the language of the refugee. You can offer to assist by phone, zoom or physically go to where they are staying.

6. Help Ukrainian Olim adjust to life in Israel

Thousands of Ukrainian Jews are expected to make Aliyah in the upcoming weeks. Help them out however you can: offer them a hot meal, advise them with Hebrew or cultural differences. Ask if they need any clothes. Most importantly, help them find a job and a proper school for their children.

7. Volunteer at the border of Ukraine

Go to the borders. Any individual who would like to volunteer on the ground can easily get to one of many borders of Ukraine and assist with whatever is needed. You'll never know exactly what is needed before arriving. I've met Israeli medical personnel who volunteered in their field of work. There were Polish-Israeli Jews at the border that made sandwiches for the refugees and volunteers — both Kosher and non Kosher options. It's not like there is someone there "running the show," that leaves lots of room for volunteering.

8. Be kind and compassionate when you talk to refugees

Don't ask them "why didn't you leave before the war broke out?" Don't judge them for their way of life, that may be different than yours. It will take them years to recover from this difficult time, and as humans we tend to forget very quickly that others are our brothers and sisters.