This year, the Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) knew it was important to ensure that Jews sheltering in Ukraine and those who fled to neighboring Eastern European countries had the opportunity to celebrate Passover even during these dark hours.

The JDC is one of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County’s historic partners, receiving support for programs and services in Israel and Jewish communities around the globe. With that embedded presence in over 70 countries worldwide, these established programs are able to nimbly react with a vital, life-saving response when crises arise.

Today, as Ukraine’s Jews flee their homes and seek safety and shelter in new lands, it is a stark reminder of why this work must continue and their story must be told. It is reminiscent of the struggle of the Jewish people and how we, as a people, honor that painful part of our history by re-telling the exodus story during Passover.

JDC distributes matzah using Israeli planes

This year, the JDC distributed matzah in Ukraine and across Eastern Europe using Israeli planes to ensure the needed supplies are delivered on time. They brought more than 30,000 pounds of matzah to tens of thousands of Jews sheltering in cities across Ukraine, including Kharkiv, Dnipro, Kyiv, and Odesa.

While in-person celebrations remained too dangerous in most locations, the JDC was there to ensure children, teens, adults, and seniors were able to participate in their Jewish tradition, and feel the strength of community, through virtual Seders. Participants came together to feel the strength of joining their community during Passover.

The JDC proudly reprinted 5,000 copies of the Haggadah they first brought into the former Soviet Union 30 years ago when Jews were yearning to connect to their shared history.

Jewish Agency for Israel holds Passover Seders in Warsaw

The Jewish Federations of North America, which includes the South Palm Beach County Federation, also helped sponsor Passover Seders in Budapest, Hungary and in Warsaw, Poland, where a third of the population was Jewish before the Germans wiped them out during the Holocaust. Nearly 80 years after Polish Jews trapped in the Warsaw Ghetto rose up against their German occupiers, a group of Ukrainian refugees gathered near the sacred site to celebrate Passover.

About 200 refugees, aid workers and others attended the event in Warsaw, which was hosted by the Jewish Agency for Israel, in partnership with the UJA-Federation of New York.

The Ghetto Uprising erupted on the eve of Passover in 1943 when hundreds of Jewish fighters, armed with weapons supplied by the Polish Underground, took on the Germany army.

Under the most challenging of situations – amid war— our partners are on the ground ready to help Jewish families across the globe. This can only be accomplished through the generosity of those in our community.

(3) Images: Passover in Warsaw (Photo Credit) Pawel Konarzewski for The Jewish Agency for Israel