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Palm Beach County volunteers help Ukraine’s large Jewish population

Members of the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County provide assistance to refugees
Posted at 6:26 PM, Mar 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-18 12:18:37-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A group of Palm Beach County volunteers are back in America tonight after traveling to the Ukrainian border.

As the crisis in Ukraine intensifies, the outpouring of support is growing deeper.

“Very harrowing, harrowing, chilling stories of what's going to come next,” said Michael Hoffman, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County.

Hoffman is one of three people from the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County who has returned home after traveling overseas to help the refugees fleeing from the war zone, knowing Ukraine’s large Jewish population is in despair.

“We've already seen 3 million refugees pass through the borders of Poland, Romania, other countries,” said Hoffman. “Many, many more millions of people are expected to cross through the border.”

Hoffman recalls his arrival in Warsaw, which was filled with temporary housing and shelter.

SPECIAL COVERAGE: CRISIS IN UKRAINE

“There were some women who felt a level of determination to go back to Ukraine hoping that this conflict was going to end relatively soon,” said Hoffman. “However, the large majority of the refugees who I spoke with recognize that this was a permanent move and they needed to figure out what was going to be next for the rest of their lives.”

What struck Hoffman the most is the majority of the refugees he saw appeared to be women and children since men over the 18 have been required to stay in Ukraine to fight.

“So many of these women are confronting this crisis and uncertainty alone,” said Hoffman. “You can see on their face that level of uncertainty, anxiety, stress, but there was also sheer determination amongst these women and children who were seeking refuge who are fleeing danger and despair.”

The Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County has raised more than $800,000 for direct help.

They’re working with other agencies to consider a possible return to Poland.

“There's a recognition that we're unfortunately at the start of what will be a long-lasting humanitarian crisis,” Hoffman said.

For ways on how to help Ukraine, click here.