OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The Jewish community in Omaha has come together in recognition of the invasion of Ukraine and is contributing tangible relief to Ukrainians.
Two members of Jewish Federation of Omaha — Beth El Rabbi Steven Abraham and Jeff Kirshenbaum — will soon travel to the war-torn country along with two dozen others from the Jewish Federations of North America.
"In preparation for this trip, the Jewish community of Omaha has collected thousands of over-the-counter medications and Passover toys & games," said the Jewish Federation of Omaha in a press release.
Beyond Omaha, the JFNA — which has been working with Ukrainian Jews for decades — is coordinating broader efforts to fundraise and allocate resources to assist the people of Ukraine, a country with some 200,000 in its Jewish community. According to the JFNA website, funds are going to a few priority areas: helping those caught in fighting with special assistance for vulnerable populations such as the elderly and children, helping transport individuals who are seeking to flee to safety, providing aid for refugees who have already fled to neighboring countries; and "facilitating Aliyah" or the immigration of Jews to the State of Israel, a historic tenet of Zionism, with The Jewish Agency.
At the local level, the Jewish Federation of Omaha seeks to raise $100,000 in charitable donations by matching all donations dollar-for-dollar up to $50,000, which then goes to the JFNA's Ukraine Crisis Fund. The most immediate needs that the organization hopes to satisfy include launching an emergency hotline, securing displaced people with temporary housing and maintaining critical welfare services, among others. Kirshenbaum and Abraham will document their in-person experiences in Ukraine while working to distribute assistance and resources.
“Ukraine is home to one of the largest Jewish communities in the world," stated the Jewish Federation of Omaha in a press release. "The reason for this trip is to bear witness to the atrocities that are happening, the human cost of war, and to inspire others to become involved and keep the situation in the front of their minds. People in Ukraine continue to suffer, and we must continue to draw attention.”