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Our Humanitarian Response to the Fighting in Ukraine

03/09/2022 02:05:17 PM


by Jill Ratner

The immediate result of political unrest and war is a humanitarian crisis. As we watch the invasion of Ukraine we see death, destruction, widespread chaos, insecurity, and the displacement of ordinary citizens who find themselves in the path of danger. 

We have witnessed these human crises unravel in modern times in Afghanistan, Haiti, Syria, Eritrea, and Myanmar. History tells us that displacement of citizens, killing, famines, and pogroms are similar humanitarian crises. This is not politics. This is about vulnerability and being at risk. This is not about soldiers, but civilians, displaced from their homes, their jobs, their way of life. They are in the path of war, lacking basic services, and experiencing the disappearance of the life they knew.

There are 43 million people in Ukraine, all of whom are in harm’s way. Currently, there are over 2.5 million refugees in the countries neighboring the western border, mostly women and children, as men are being conscripted into the army.

There are over 200,000 Jews in Ukraine. Their future is uncertain. Will they return home? Will they travel to Western Europe? Israel? The U.S.? Currently, Israel expects many to make Aliyah and has been preparing for months.

IsraAID, an Israeli nonprofit humanitarian aid organization, is sending a team to the region to assist refugees. In addi-
tion, United Hatzalah, the Israeli emergency service that frequently assists in international disasters, is on the ground.

Through our work at resettling refugees, Bet Torah’s Social Justice team is working closely with IRC (the International Rescue Committee) HIAS, and WJCI (Westchester Jewish Coalition for Immigration), and is being continuously updated as to how we can respond to the immediate needs.

What should we, as Americans, as Jews, as a Bet Torah community be doing in this moment? Right now we should advocate for the U.S. to support NGOs in Ukraine, to provide humanitarian relief to the internally displaced, and should support UNHCR and NGOs providing humanitarian relief in surrounding countries as they receive refugees.

To be kept up to date on advocacy for Ukrainians, visit here.

A committee has formed to address this crisis. If you would like to participate or help orchestrate a Bet Torah response to the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Ukraine, please contact Liz Schonfeld ( or

Based on our review of the organizations working on the ground, the scope of their work, and our own personal experience engaging with them, Bet Torah is recommending the following three organizations for our donations:

  • HIAS: Emergency donation to help support HIAS’s Ukraine crisis response.

  • AFYA: Nonprofit medical supply organization in Westchester, mobilizing medical supplies for Ukraine.

  • IsraAID: Non-governmental humanitarian aid organization based in Israel. IsraAID has been on the ground in over 50 countries, often the first to respond to humanitarian disasters.

This crisis illustrates the plight of refugees around the world. It is estimated that globally there are 84 million refugees, half of whom are children. As the war in Ukraine erupts before our eyes, please remember that all refugees need our support, whether they practice the same religion, look like us or our forebears, or are different from us in appearance, language, and customs.

Mon, June 27 2022 28 Sivan 5782