Meet the organization that’s hosting Passover Seders for Ukrainian refugees

  (photo credit: MEIR PANIM)
(photo credit: MEIR PANIM)

As the conflict between Russia and Ukraine continues into its second month, the number of refugees fleeing war-torn Ukraine increases exponentially. Many refugees are headed to search for sanctuary in various countries throughout western Europe. But many of the Jewish ones are returning to their ancestral homeland - Israel.

In fact, Jerusalem is bracing for the arrival of up to 10,000 Ukrainian immigrants, most of whom are Jewish. They are arriving just in time for one of the most important and family-oriented holidays in the Jewish faith - Passover. These refugees eagerly anticipate their first Passover Seder in Zion, where they will be reunited with their people and their land.

Since Passover is a holiday that celebrates freedom, this Passover will be especially significant for those who made it out of war-torn Ukraine. That’s because the Jewish refugees from Ukraine, like those from Egypt, managed to escape their own suffering to be brought to the promised land just like the ancient Israelites in the Passover story.

That’s why so many Ukrainians who succeeded in fleeing their country of birth against all odds, are eagerly anticipating this Passover holiday. That’s because they, like their ancestors, went through their own personal exodus from the Exile to the Promised Land.

And so, the Jews who fled Ukraine are about to experience the freedom of Passover like no other Jew in the world.

There’s just one problem.

These refugees, who overcame unimaginable hardship to make it to the Jewish State, have arrived with nothing but the shirts on their backs. This means that they have no money and therefore, no means to buy food to eat on Passover, let alone afford a Passover Seder.

But there is a silver lining. That’s because there is one organization in Israel that specializes in feeding the country’s poor...also on the holidays.

That organization is Meir Panim.

Meir Panim is Israel’s premier social organization providing warm meals to Israelis who can’t otherwise afford them. This year, they will be providing food for Passover Seders to the Ukrainian refugees who need it the most. This includes matzah, wine, and a warm (kosher for Passover) meal. 

But now there’s another problem.

Due to the recent flow of refugees, this charitable organization has been forced to ramp up its efforts to ensure that no Ukrainian refugee goes hungry during the holiday.

Because of the massive influx of refugees combined with increasing inflation, Meir Panim is, unfortunately, struggling to collect enough funds to provide the food needed for their holiday meals. That’s because Meir Panim relies on private donations to operate its signature Restaurant-Style Soup Kitchens and food distribution centers across Israel. 

Can you sponsor a Passover Seder for a family of Ukrainian refugees?

If you can, please consider donating to Meir Panim.

Remember, Passover is the holiday of freedom. This year, there is no one who will appreciate their freedom more than those who fled Kyiv under fire.

Additionally, there is a tradition to give tzedakah (charity) on Passover. The custom is called kimcha d’Pascha in Aramaic (flour for Pesach), or maot chitim (money for wheat) in Hebrew. Rabbi Moshe Isserlis (the Rema), a 16th-century rabbinic leader of Ashkenazi Jewry explains that the custom compels the Jewish people to buy wheat and distribute it to the poor for Passover. Today, that custom has evolved to giving money as a charitable donation.

Now is your chance to help the Ukrainian refugees celebrate their newfound liberty with dignity. Let this Passover be extra meaningful to them. Remember, generosity doesn’t necessarily mean giving a lot of money. It means giving what you can. And there aren’t many more important causes to give to than feeding both Ukrainian refugees and poverty-stricken Israelis this Passover.

Donate to sponsor a Passover Seder for a Ukrainian refugee family today.

This article was written in cooperation with Meir Panim