Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County, Florida leaders, volunteers welcome Ukrainian refugees to Israel

Jewish leaders from our community have returned from the state of Israel, where they welcomed about 100 Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war-torn country.Eight leaders and philanthropists of the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County are reflecting on the nine days they spent in Israel, where they did their best to help the people fleeing Ukraine feel welcome in their new home. “It was an extraordinarily powerful experience,” said Susan Shulman Pertnoy, the incoming board chair for the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County.Shulman Pertnoy went to Israel for last week’s effort. She as well as a few of her family members and other local Jewish leaders arrived in Israel April 27. They all got back to Florida on Friday.The charter plane leaving Eastern Europe carrying Ukrainian refugees arrived in Tel Aviv on April 28. Shulman Pertnoy says the refugees getting off the plane had mixed emotions after they landed. “As they walked off the plane, it was an eerie silence,” said Shulman Pertnoy. “We were greeting them with the flags and trying to be festive, but they were shocked.”It was very powerful and meaningful, but at the same time, very frightening for them because they are leaving lives that they built and having to start a new in a very foreign country with a foreign language — so it was very unsettling.”The more than a week-long visit was the first time members of the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County went to Israel to support Ukrainian refugees. “I continue to be inspired by the dedication of this group of leaders and philanthropists,” said Michael Hoffman, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County. “They continue to give their selves and their generosity. They hopped on a plane. They went to Israel on a moment’s notice and they were on the tarmac greeting a planeload of Ukrainian Jews who don’t know what their life is going to look like moving forward. I find that inspiring.”But the organization, along with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the Jewish Agency for Israel, have now organized 10 charter flights of refugees to the state of Israel. Altogether, the organizations have helped bring about 120,000 Ukrainians out of the war zone and about 1,000 Ukrainians specifically to Israel.Federation members also went to the Ukraine-Poland border in March. This summer, they plan to send volunteers back to Israel and Europe for more efforts. Meanwhile, organization leaders are continuing to work with the boots on the ground to help the people who left their homes start over.”The challenges persist and every day a new challenge and every day brings a new aspect of this conflict that does not seem to be ending any time soon,” Hoffman said. “Every day we have to find new ways to support these refugees for the long haul.” The organizations are helping refugees obtain medical care, education for their children, food, housing and financial assistance. The efforts also include helping Ukrainians who are unable to leave the country.Click here to find out how to support the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County’s mission.

Jewish leaders from our community have returned from the state of Israel, where they welcomed about 100 Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war-torn country.

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