Jewish Federation of Madison: Leaders return from mission on Ukraine-Poland border
Leaders of the Jewish Federation of Madison (JFM) returned home April 5 after a whirlwind visit to the Ukraine-Poland border and four refugee centers in and around Warsaw. JFM Executive Director Alan Klugman and President Joe Shumow spent 48 hours on the ground in Poland as part of a delegation of two dozen Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) leaders to be briefed and testify first hand of the refugee crisis. They heard heartbreaking and inspiring personal stories of refugee families and individuals and of the life-saving work our partners are doing on the ground. In addition, Alan and Joe brought six suitcases filled with much-needed over-the-counter medicine to distribute to the refugees, donated by members of the Madison community.
In just over a month since the fighting began, the Jewish Federation of Madison’s Ukrainian Emergency Relief Fund has raised more than $100,000 from the Madison community, part of the $43.4 million dollars raised collectively by the Jewish Federations, with 100% going to relief efforts. Some $40 million of this sum has already been allocated to 35 NGOs operating on the ground in Ukraine and neighboring countries to support Ukrainian refugees in times of need – Jewish and non-Jewish.
According to Executive Director Alan Klugman, “We stood at the Medyka border crossing in Poland, and the first-ever stands inside the Polish border to welcome Ukrainians are run by our partner organizations, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) They don’t ask anyone about their faith or culture, they just offer help to anyone in need.
Once in Poland, refugees need housing, food, clothing, medicine, health care, mental health services and transportation. A wide network of NGOs and the Polish government work tirelessly to provide these services. Organizations funded by JFNA and JFM are on the ground to help in Poland. “From daycare provided by Dror Israel at the Warsaw Expo Center to JAFI and JDC rental hotels for Ukrainians, our partner organizations are as ubiquitous in refugee centers as they are talented. I’m so proud of their work – really do Tikun Olamthe Jewish principle of repairing the world,” President Joe Shumow said.
Our partner organizations providing relief on the ground were ready to spring into action because Jewish Federations helped build and sustain them for decades with regular donations during quieter times. “The skill and expertise we have witnessed in the relief efforts in Ukraine and neighboring countries is the result of years of experience, training, relationship building and fundraising,” he said. said Eric Fingerhut, President and CEO of Jewish Federations of North America.