In Poland, Bearing Witness to the Ukraine Crisis

When he traveled to Poland with JDC, Jared Green got a firsthand look at JDC's Ukraine crisis response.

By Jared Green - JDC Supporter | July 27, 2022

Jared Green (front row, far right) spent three action-packed days in Poland with JDC.

As part of a recent JDC fly-in to Poland, Jared Green got an in-depth look at JDC’s Ukraine crisis response. From visiting the JDC-NATAN clinic — a nonsectarian medical center staffed by medical volunteers — to speaking with Jewish refugees at a facility where JDC accommodates refugees, Green learned all about JDC’s humanitarian response at the border and throughout Poland. Here, he recounts what he saw, as well as why he feels it’s so important to support JDC’s Ukraine crisis response.

Last month, I went on a lightning-fast three-day visit to the Poland-Ukraine border.

I was invited to join a JDC mission with eight incredible donors, each intent on bearing witness to this unprecedented crisis.

We met with refugees who had recently fled their homes amidst bombings, each family expecting that their return home would be imminent.

Instead, they now face a different reality: Their homes, neighborhoods, and cities, in some cases, are completely destroyed. They are homeless, and many fled with nothing at all.

Jared Green

Their journeys are the stories of our nightmares.

Some endured initial raids in bomb shelters for weeks until they ran out of gas, food, and water. Starving and exhausted, they began their escapes.

On their three- or four-day journeys, they avoided hazardous major roads, navigating fields and backroads. Many risked their lives and remaining savings to leave the emergency zone.

And in the end, they were left with nothing, many leaving behind a father or other family member, and completely lost in a new country, facing language barriers and resource constraints.

Now they are struggling with severe trauma — trains going over train tracks trigger bouts of fear, the smell of explosives stays in their heads, and some children have stopped talking entirely or have begun stuttering.

These people are children, parents, grandparents, in all conditions, and they are in dire need.

It’s easy to see them as “other” until you meet them. Some are doctoral candidates, students, physicians —  people like us who are in a position we could never imagine for ourselves. And they are grateful for their lives, many finding some happiness in the moments between grief, tragedy, and fear

As a Jew, this challenge is personal given the investments we have made in building up Jewish life since the fall of the Soviet Union. Ukrainian Jewish communities, like their neighbors, have been severely impacted since February of this year.

The people I met are grateful for their lives, many finding happiness in the moments between grief, tragedy, and fear.

To meet this dire moment, JDC has already evacuated around 13,000 Jews throughout Ukraine, some with medical evacuation help for those too sick to leave unassisted. They have set up refugee centers throughout Poland and other neighboring countries, assisting thousands with medical help, housing, and future plans.

For those still in Ukraine, JDC has established 15 camps for children and families, with approximately 900 participants. And JDC continues with other relief and evacuation efforts, setting up text and phone hotlines and emergency resources in record time and continuing to care for elderly Jews and families at risk — hallmarks of the organization’s vast infrastructure and work in Ukraine before the crisis​, too. 

A devoted supporter of JDC, Jared Green most recently served as the Senior VP of Live Auctioneers and the VP of Strategy at Heritage Auctions. A seasoned art collector, senior auction executive, and business strategist, Green continues to collect contemporary and illustration art. He graduated from Duke University with honors and has an MBA in Strategy & Entrepreneurship from Emory University.

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