We have just been to the Ukranian border at Medyka. I am joined by David Saginaw, our Federation President and Mark Wilf, Chair of the Board of Jewish Federations of North America. What struck us most was the quiet at the border. Eerily quiet. Everyone is in shock, traumatized, stunned. Women and children and nearly no men. The Ukrainians are not letting any men with fewer than three children aged 18-60 leave the country. Again, we’re met with generations of women who fled the bombings and vicious attacks on their homes and residential areas. Women who hid for days in makeshift bomb shelters, or under stairs, before waiting days in convoys or traffic jams at the border. It’s hard to see and unimaginable to think about what so many here have experienced.
We are watching our colleagues from our international partners, the JDC and the Jewish Agency at the border, in awe of their incredible, lifesaving, inspirational work. Thousands of lives were saved, thousands rescued and more in the days to come. Thousands of people on their way to Israel. Thousands more to come.
It is not clear how many of those we are helping are halachically (by Jewish law) Jewish. I can share with you, that I feel a deep sense of peace and pride with an approach that says that there is a Jewish responsibility to save as many non-Jews as we can while we save every Jew we can too. Last night at dinner the Chief Rabbi of Poland, Rabbi Michael Schudrich, said “I don’t know if everyone we save is Jewish. But I do know that everyone we save is a child of God.”
In many ways, I think that what we’re experiencing here is the very best of humanity, here to help those who have witnessed the worst. I’m inspired by the teams on the ground, the people we’re meeting, the thousands of donors in our community that have responded and continue to do so and the mission ahead.
I have tremendous gratitude for all of you who have supported the United Jewish Appeal (which allowed us to immediately fund our partners on the ground, without hesitation), and our Ukraine Relief Fund (which is directly sending funds in real time to our partners across Ukraine and its neighbors to supply food, medicine, transpiration, logistics, security, Aliyah, rescue work, and so much more).