A 32-year-old organization fiscally sponsored by FJC has found a new calling in responding to the urgent humanitarian crisis caused by the millions of refugees fleeing Ukraine.
The Jewish Community of Poland Fund was founded by Rabbi Michael Schudrich in 2000 to help families in Poland reconnect with their Jewish culture and roots, after decades of Communist rule, through lectures, retreats, and educational programs.
In responding to the Ukraine crisis in recent weeks, the Jewish Community of Poland Fund’s scope has dramatically and tragically shifted. The organization has mobilized volunteers at the Polish border, connecting Ukrainian refugees of all backgrounds and cultures to transportation and services like housing, food, medical care, legal advice, and psychological counseling.
Rabbi Schudrich, who acts as the Chief Rabbi of Poland, notes the universal nature of this work, which is rooted in his organization’s long history of human services. “When refugees finally get across the Polish border, they’re confronted by questions of: What do I do now? Where am I? Who am I? What am I supposed to do?’” the Rabbi explains. “Our mission has not changed; it has been enhanced and taken to another level.”
In the weeks since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24th, the Jewish Community of Poland Fund has seen a dramatic increase in donations, receiving over $534,000 in donations, a figure that exceeds its fundraising over the entire prior year. “People have been incredibly generous,” Rabbi Schudrich remarks. “We can’t help everyone. So, the goal is always to help one more person.”
Over the last several weeks FJC donors have also responded rapidly, recommending over $1.5 million in grants to organizations providing emergency support. Organizations receiving significant grant funding (over $100,000 in aggregate from multiple donors) include Razom, United Help Ukraine, Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, International Rescue Committee, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, and World Central Kitchen.
Special thanks to Rachel Goldman, Program Assistant, for additional reporting for this story.