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Jewish Federation of Grand Rapids fundraises for those fleeing Ukraine

Ukrainian and U.S. flags fly in Kyiv, Ukraine.
Jewish Federation of Grand Rapids
Jewish Federation of Grand Rapids fundraises for those fleeing Ukraine

In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Jewish organizations across the U.S. are working to aid Jews fleeing the violence. The Jewish Federation of Grand Rapids (JFGR) is teaming up with its parent organization, the Jewish Federation of North America, to raise more than $20 million in immediate and short-term support.

“I fear for the lives of innocent men, women and children... Their lives will never be the same again," Executive Director of JFGR, Nicole Katzman, told WGVU.

Conversations surrounding Nazi rhetoric have been thrust into the spotlight, following Russian Leader, Vladimir Putin’s, statement that he invaded Ukraine to 'denazify' the country, despite Ukraine’s democratically elected president being Jewish and having lost relatives in the Holocaust.

Katzman disagrees with Putin’s logic, calling the recent Russian bombing at Babyn Yar, a site in Kyiv where thousands of Jews were executed by Nazis during World War II, an intimidation tactic. While the territory was hit, a memorial for the site still stands.

“This is part of indiscriminate bombing and shelling by Russian forces to create terror and fear in the Jewish Ukrainian population. Russian forces are guilty of war crimes and they’re committing acts of terror and killing on a daily basis, and this is just another example," Katzman said, later adding “...While there are misguided people across the world, Putin’s justification is a sham and a lie."

The Federation is encouraging West Michiganders to give what they can to support Jews and others fleeing Ukraine, by donating on its website. Katzman said donations are currently going towards things like helping make Aliyah to Israel, maintaining welfare services, launching an emergency hotline and more.