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Palm Beach temple helps charter plane for refugees in Ukraine

Three million refugees were forced from their homes
Posted at 11:48 PM, Mar 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-15 23:49:42-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A call for action as the need for help grows in Ukraine.

Three million refugees were forced from their homes and are now desperate to find shelter and safety. A need so many people here at home are helping answer.

Samara Chinskey is not only donating money but this teacher is also encouraging her students at Temple Emanu-El of Palm Beach.

"I homeschool these two boys and we were discussing how they wanted to donate from the charity they have," she said.

Samara was looking at ways to assist when an email from her temple showed up.

"And at the same time, my temple that same day sends over an email saying there's this "Operation Esther," she said.

Operation Esther actually started in Toronto, Canada.

"Through someone I know who works for an organization in Toronto, I learned that it's possible to charter a plane," Aliza Spiro with the Song Shul synagogue said.

Spiro works for the synagogue in Toronto. With so many Jewish refugees stranded in Warsaw, Poland, her organization decided to help charter a plane to Israel.

"In two days, 48 hours in Toronto we have raised enough to charter an entire plane, 190 refugees," she said.

Spiro's group raised the money in collaboration with Temple Emanu-El of Palm Beach.

Dvora Callahan is Spiro's sister.

"There are no commercial flights. So as soon as we can get the people in the plan, in the air, and to Israel, that's when it's going to happen. We've got the expectation it's going to happen in the next couple of days," she said.

Callahan said the operation is well organized.

"Once they get to Israel, they are only being allowed to board the plane with the knowledge that they have a plan. There's some idea they're going to be staying with friends or relatives.

Samara said this is her way of helping.

"I was looking for some way to make a difference to give back," she said.