As soon as the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, we knew that, as a Jewish community here in Boston, we needed to act in support of the Ukrainian people. Some aspects of that response were obvious and immediate – such as the huge philanthropic mobilization by CJP in support of the community in Dnipro that we have so much history with. And, for our member organization Action for Post-Soviet Jewry, it was a massive mobilization of urgently needed supplies. For JCRC, it was providing immediate leadership to successfully advocate for Massachusetts to divest state funds from Russian assets.
But despite our many years of experience mobilizing our community in support of immigrants and refugees arriving here, due to the lack of a uniform resettlement structure for Ukrainians, our mobilization for them was not as immediate. No family’s situation or requests for support have been the same. And while, now, hundreds have arrived here, the vast majority of the refugees remain in Europe. But for those who are here, many are requesting help with finding housing, accessing funds, getting connected to local resources and in some cases, a more comprehensive communal sponsorship. And our phenomenal community is stepping up to the moment, as we have done time and time again, steeped in relationships and connection.
Several weeks back, our Director of Synagogue Organizing, Rachie Lewis, received a call from an Afghan woman who had been serving as a translator for one of the community teams supporting a recently resettled Afghan family. She was working at a hotel in the area and had just checked in a recently arrived Ukrainian mom and her two kids who had nowhere else to go.
A few weeks after that, we heard from our partner, JFS of MetroWest, about a local Jewish Ukrainian woman who was trying to bring her great grandchildren – currently in limbo in Europe – to Massachusetts. Last week we were approached about a Ukrainian family that has been in the area for several months hosted by relatives, and who now needed a longer-term place to call home in this continuing uncertain time.
These moments are just snapshots of the needed aid that we and our partners are being called to provide to the growing number of Ukrainians who have arrived in Massachusetts and are in need of local resources. Still others are trying to figure out how to get here and will need comprehensive support to make that hope a reality.
In this evolving moment, JCRC continues to work with our partners, Jewish Family Service of MetroWest, Catholic Charities and The Shapiro Foundation to leverage the resources we have organized throughout our community and beyond to answer these different and varying calls. Together, we are taking steps to make the best use of our communal infrastructure, as we also try to balance the needs of other immigrant and refugee populations. We are, first and foremost, building support systems on top of the already-formed foundation of 35 congregational support teams well-versed in resettlement through the work of supporting Afghan families and individuals. Those are the leaders we sought out when we got the aforementioned calls.
We know that the interest in this work runs deep; both within the existing teams and beyond them as well. If you are not already, now is the time to get engaged in this work. If you or your synagogue, community, or network, is interested in offering support of some kind, please fill out this survey. We will be calling upon you as this work develops. You can also reach out directly to Rachie Lewis at with specific questions.
We are a community that knows how to show up and knows how to say yes. We are compelled to action by our long and deep relationship with the Ukrainian people, and also by the ideals we hold for America as a place that must be a refuge for those fleeing harm from around the world. Our ideals connect us to one another and guide us in building networks, enabling us to respond to others in need. This collective community infrastructure is the heart of who we are at JCRC and are proud that you are a part of it.
We will continue to support Ukrainians and other immigrants and refugees seeking safety here. We invite all of you to be a part of this important work. We are grateful for this incredible community and the opportunity to live our values through this important work.