Originally published on 4/8/22
By Steve Schauder, Executive Director, Jewish Family Service
Like you, I have been captivated by the horrific images emerging from the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Families fleeing for their lives with only one bulging suitcase while innocent civilians are killed in the streets is almost too painful to watch. Watching Europe aflame and seeing violence against ordinary citizens is both terrifying and tragically familiar to members of the Jewish community.
JFS has received many calls from concerned community members asking us if JFS has any plans to accept refugees from Ukraine. I wanted to share that as of writing this, there is no way to process immigration and refugee applications in Ukraine and airspace is closed. HIAS reports:
“With all refugee crises, there are three so-called ‘durable solutions’: Return, Integration in the country to which refugees fled, and Resettlement. In the early days of a humanitarian crisis, the priority is typically not resettlement, but rather on ensuring that refugees have access to life-sustaining services, including food, shelter, and water. With time, it will become clear how many of the Ukrainians who fled can return home, how many will stay in the countries to which they fled, and how many must be resettled to other countries.
The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and resettlement states have not provided any indication that resettlement is being pursued for Ukrainians or other nationalities fleeing Ukraine at this time. However, with a refugee crisis of this scope, the United States and other countries outside of Europe must share the responsibility and demonstrate solidarity for meeting the needs of the forcibly displaced.”
JFS has joined our Jewish Federation and other partner agencies in reaching out to the Biden Administration to ask that the United States begin admitting pending Lautenberg and visa applicants so they can wait in the US in safety.
As we have taken on Afghan refugee resettlement over the past five months, we are exploring what steps would need to be in place for our agency to accept Ukrainian refugees. We will keep the community informed of any new developments that we hear.
There are important ways you can help:
- Donate- There is a need for critically-important food, medicine, homecare, and other emergency support to all of the people of Ukraine, including Jewish seniors and families sheltering in place in Ukraine. You can give through Jewish Federations at www.jewishfederations.org/crisis-in-ukraine2022 or through JFS’ Resettlement Partner, HIAS, at hias.org.
- Stay informed- You can stay updated to learn about the HIAS response in Ukraine by visiting hias.org/hias-responds-crisis-ukraine.
As I write this, the holiday of Purim will begin in a few hours. Purim teaches us that fortunes can turn in a moment, but justice and righteousness will always prevail. I know you join me in wishing a speedy resolution to this crisis and a peaceful outcome to the conflict.