WASHINGTON - The Jewish Federations of North America announced a first-of-its-kind central volunteer hub in support of refugees fleeing Ukraine. The new initiative would recruit and place hundreds of skilled volunteers on the ground over the next few months, JFNA said.
The first group of 30 volunteers is expected to leave the US this week and will be stationed in Warsaw and on the Ukraine border. “This initiative comes in response to shortages of skilled volunteers on the ground and will tap into the tremendous network of Russian-Speaking Jews across North America that Jewish Federations have built over the years,” JFNA said.
The effort is in partnership with the Jewish Agency for Israel, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, and IsraAID.
According to JFNA, the initial group of 30 volunteers consists largely of refugees and 2nd generation refugees who are now returning to the same part of the world they or their parents fled from, this time to offer aid and healing. They are expected to remain in Poland for between two to four weeks.
“Jewish Federations are uniquely positioned to create a centralized North American volunteer structure for this crisis, bringing together our extensive relationships with the network of organizations on the ground and our large network of Russian-Speaking Jews across North America,” Sarah Eisenman, Chief Community and Jewish Life Officer at Jewish Federations of North America, said in a statement.
“There is a pressing need for skilled volunteer support, yet in a fast-moving crisis, it can be difficult to map the needs and recruit the right people to match those needs. We’ve stepped in to meet the moment and bring together the organizations with those eager to serve,” she added
“As a former refugee myself, I am proud to see how Russian-speaking Jews in North America are responding to the Ukraine crisis through a variety of measures, including volunteering on the border,” said Olga Markus, Director of Russian-Speaking Jewish Engagement at Jewish Federations of North America.
“For refugees from the former Soviet Union, this is a meaningful opportunity to ‘pay it forward’ and I am proud to help lead this aid relief.” According to JFNA, Jewish Federations have raised over $40 million for Ukraine aid so far.