Rabbi Igor Zinkov and Rabbi Deborah Blausten have been in Poland as part of the European and World Union for Progressive Judaism (EUPJ and WUPJ) campaign to help the people of Ukraine.
They got to see first-hand the incredible work being done thanks to your donations to the Ukraine Crisis Fund and find out where future help is needed.
They visited a number of centres and Jewish communities in Poland, who are supporting Ukrainian refugees.
These included the WUPJ / EUPJ funded Refugee Centre near Warsaw, another nearby centre run by the JDC/ Polish Jewish Community, a local group that supports refugee children and Ec Chaim Progressive Synagogue in Warsaw, where the congregation are part of a crisis group that coordinates all support efforts.
At Ec Chaim, they joined colleague Rabbi Stas Wojciechowicz in leading an emotional and moving Kabbalat Shabbat service for the Jewish refugees in Warsaw.
Igor, who is a coordinator of WUPJ / EUPJ Ukraine Emergency Support and Rabbi at The Liberal Jewish Synagogue in London, said: “There are many people who need our help now – both in Ukraine and outside.
“We are supporting those who have chosen or been able to leave with their immediate and resettlement needs. We also know that many people are remaining in Ukraine – my relatives amongst them – and our rabbis and leaders are in regular touch with community leaders on the ground to provide practical and pastoral support.
“The WUPJ Ukraine Crisis Fund is a Jewish international fund. We hope that one day we will spend this money on building synagogues and communities, training rabbis and Jewish educators, musicians, organising seminars, summer camps and many exciting programmes. But all of that will come later. Now we must do everything we can to help and support those in need – people in Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees. Although the fund is Jewish, we help everybody.”
Deborah, a member of the WUPJ Executive Board and Rabbi at Finchley Reform Synagogue, added: “The outpouring of kindness and desire to help others stands in stark contrast to the violence and cruelty of this war.
“The WUPJ / EUPJ Refugee Centre came about because of pre-existing interfaith relationships, and people have gone to extraordinary lengths to provide sanctuary and respite to those fleeing.
“Our tradition gives us a clear directive in this moment to care for those in need of shelter, and the relationships and physical resources of synagogues give us an architecture to act through.”
Sonja Guentner, Chair of the European Union for Progressive Judaism, added her thanks to the 6,000 donors who have helped the European and World Union for Progressive Judaism campaign raise almost $1.5million so far.
Sonja said: “This money enables us to provide help to those who need it urgently, the Ukrainian refugees and displaced persons, as well as the EUPJ congregations in Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic who have opened their doors and hearts and are going out of their way to provide shelter, support and comfort in so very many ways.”
Click here to donate to the WUPJ Ukraine Crisis Fund.