JNF UK supports Ukrainian Refugees in Israel with Vouchers

JNF UK and Israeli Organisations have partnered together to provide financial aid to 1,000 Ukrainian refugees in Israel to purchase basic supplies.

Almost 80 years after Peotr Sanevich and his family saved the Jewish boy Dimitri Schmeiger from the clutches of the Nazis, Sanevich’s daughter and seven of his grandchildren fled the bombings in Ukraine for Be’er Sheva, where Schmeiger’s family lives today.

As more and more refugees from Ukraine began experiencing financial difficulties, including family members of Righteous Among the Nations, the British philanthropic organisation JNF UK and the Matan−Investing in the Community NGO, decided to help and give gift vouchers to a thousand refugees for the purchase of basic supplies totalling about half a million Shekels (£127,000). The assistance will range from 1,000 to 1,500 Shekels (£252 to £382), depending on the size of the family. The distribution will be carried out through the Tzav Hashaa humanitarian aid administration, which operates under the direction of the Ministry of Welfare and Social Security and Magen David Adom.

The vouchers will help the refugees purchase the things they need beyond the food basket supplied by the state. The refugees will be able to buy basic items including clothes and footwear, furniture and household goods, since many arrived without means and there are restrictions on working permission during their stay in Israel.

Anatoly and Lydia Odarchuk fled to Israel from Rivne in Ukraine with seven of their nine children when the shelling began. Lydia’s father was recognised as a Righteous Among the Nations for risking his life to save Jewish children during the Holocaust.

“We had a happy life in Ukraine. Until the last moment we didn’t believe that a war could break out. The decision to leave was very difficult because it is our homeland and you have to leave for an unknown period of time”, said Lydia. “We have discovered in Israel many good, caring people who help us. The vouchers will be a great help in purchasing the things that we need because our family is very large”.

Ksenia Sukhenko (31), fled with her two daughters from the city of Dnipro and was eligible to receive the gift vouchers: “With the explosions, we decided to leave immediately. During the escape to Israel, my daughters only ate bread and sandwiches. It was snowing and very cold. At the border crossing they slept on the floor in a school until they approved for us to come to Israel, where my father lives”.

Sukhenko continued, “We arrived in Israel with almost nothing, with winter clothes and a bag of documents. For four months now, my father has been sleeping on an inflatable mattress, and I am with my daughters on a shared bed in a tiny flat. I need to start my life over. I hope that in the future, better days will come”.

Samuel Hayek, Chairman of JNF UK said “JNF UK took this important decision to help refugees who have fled the war in Ukraine to Israel.  Our support for refugees in a joint effort between the Jews of Britain and donors from Israel is a great privilege.  Lydia’s father’s involvement in saving Jews in Ukraine during the Holocaust was a beacon of light during the darkest period of humankind.  It was an act of bravery.  It was an act of the highest humankind, and we the Jewish people owe debt of responsibility to help you at the most difficult of time that you are going through.  We are delighted that you are with us, and we are happy to help you in any way that we can in appreciation of the contribution that you family made during the Holocaust, the most terrible period for the Jewish people.”

Hayek added, “Together with the Israeli government, we must help the refugees as much as possible until the situation is clarified. We call on other philanthropic organisations to join us so that we can increase support and solidarity with the Ukrainian people who are going through a difficult time”.

Ahuva Yanai, CEO of Matan−Investing in the Community: “I call on businesses and their employees together with donors to join us for a necessary humane investment in the lives of the families who fled the war in Ukraine without basic supplies for themselves…We all hope that on the day the refugee families return to their homes, they will remember us, the Israeli society, and know that during their darkest hour we extended a helping hand”.

Naftali Yabetz, head of the Tzav Hashaa administration: “In light of the government’s decision to provide humanitarian aid to war refugees from Ukraine, the Ministry of Welfare and Social Security is proud to be at the forefront of the response and help the population in their most difficult time”. 

Photography Credits :  Yossi Zamir