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Jewish communities providing humanitarian aid to refugees from Ukraine: JCC Krakow

Image courtesy of JCC Krakow

Jewish communities across Europe, and particularly those bordering Ukraine, have stepped up to help the refugees entering their countries. Their actions speak directly to the Jewish mitzvah of ‘Tikkun Olam’ – repairing the world.

Krakow’s Jewish Community Centre is working round the clock to help as many refugees from Ukraine as possible. Over 450,000 refugees have crossed into Poland from Ukraine as of March 2nd, according to the Polish border police. JCC Krakow quickly set out to gather supplies for the refugees – blankets, clothing, medicine, hygiene products, food, and donations. They are providing housing, are offering psychological counseling, and also launched a Ukrainian-language hotline.

“We have fully focused our efforts on helping Ukrainians, Jewish and non-Jewish, here in Krakow and when possible, in Ukraine,” Jonathan Ornstein, the Executive Director of JCC Krakow, told the NOA project. 

“Our community, [located] so close to Auschwitz, knows what it is to suffer, and therefore has a particular responsibility,” Ornstein said. “We have turned our center into a collection point for food, clothing, medicine, and hygienic supplies as well as providing housing, information, and assistance to anyone who comes in or that we are aware that needs help. In addition, together with local partners, we are offering psychological counseling and legal advice, and are in the process of equipping and opening an off-site Safe Room space for mothers and children.”

JCC Krakow opened in 2008. Decades after the Holocaust, it has been dedicated to rebuilding Jewish life in the city, providing social and educational services to the Jewish community of Krakow, while also offering programming to the larger society and fostering Polish-Jewish relations. With this latest humanitarian mission, they are a vehicle through which the Jewish community can give their support to others in need. “We have been positively overwhelmed by the response of the local Krakow community and Poland in general in the desire to help our Ukrainian neighbors. Our worldwide partners and friends have been incredibly generous. We are incredibly thankful,” Ornstein said.

A NOA (Networks Overcoming Antisemitism) profile on Jews working towards an inclusive Europe: www.noa-project.eu