WARSAW – The Jewish Agency is set to launch an operation room to coordinate with all organizations on the ground in Ukraine and bordering countries.
In the upcoming days, the agency plans on creating a permanent round table in Israel that will have members of the relevant Jewish and Israel organizations on the ground in Ukraine and the bordering countries.
Beside the Jewish Agency, groups such as the Joint Distribution Committee, Chabad, The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ), Hatzalah and other local organizations have been working for almost three weeks in Ukraine in order to assist Jews escaping the war, and also to accommodate them in refugee centers and camps in Poland, Moldova, Romania and Hungary.
Yet sources in many Jewish organizations, as well as Israeli government officials, have said in recent days that there is a “mess” in coordination among the different groups.
Many organizations are on the ground, yet not all of them actually know the Jewish communities or even speak the language, according to representatives of the Israeli government. They say that every day they have heard of another initiative or another Israeli group that has decided to try to assist Jews to escape from Ukraine – many times in dangerous situations.
Jewish Agency interim chairman Yaakov Hagoel said on Tuesday that he hopes in the upcoming days a forum of all of the large and central Jewish organizations will be established.
“We have always worked with all the organizations and continue to coordinate all of our actions on the ground,” Hagoel said. “We are trying to build a tighter platform in order to coordinate even better to save Ukrainian Jews. The member organizations will share information and data with each other, mainly in helping each other in bringing the Jews out of Ukraine and into neighboring countries.”
He gave an example of two groups in one city that may not know that there are two planned rescue operations.
“If there is a Jewish Agency shuttle leaving the city of Lviv and there are 10 members of a Chabad community, they can actually use the same bus instead of wasting money and valuable time.”
Jewish Federations of North America CEO Eric Fingerhut said that he was happy with this initiative.
“On the one hand, it’s wonderful that we have organizations in the Jewish world that are aggressively saving Jews, yet we need a coordinated effort,” he said. “The Agency personnel are the experts on the ground and are giving these organizations space and assistance. The work of rescuing refugees – giving them the support that they need, bringing them to Israel and connecting them to Israeli society – is sophisticated and specialized work. The Jewish Agency representatives have been experts on these types of situations for a century. We need to recognize and utilize their expertise.”