100+ Ukrainian Jews Celebrate Passover in Poland | The Jewish AgencyOver 100 Ukrainian Jewish Refugees Celebrate Passover in Poland
Ukrainian Jewish refugees sit at a Seder table in Poland

Over 100 Ukrainian Jewish Refugees Celebrate Passover in Poland


Over 100 Ukrainian Jewish Refugees Celebrate Passover in Poland

Israel's Ambassador to Poland and Chief Rabbi of Poland attend Seder which gave comfort to the refugees during this tumultuous time for both Israel and Ukraine


Over 100 Ukrainian Jewish Refugees Celebrate Passover in Poland

Israel's Ambassador to Poland and Chief Rabbi of Poland attend Seder which gave comfort to the refugees during this tumultuous time for both Israel and Ukraine

Jerusalem, April 21, 2024 – Over 100 Jewish refugees from Ukraine gathered in Poland on Friday night to celebrate a special Passover Seder hosted by The Jewish Agency for Israel.

The Seder began with a joint call for the release of the remaining hostages in the Gaza Strip, while symbols of solidarity lined the room and included a table with empty chairs and pictures of the hostages placed in the corner of the hall.

“This year, we celebrate Passover differently, praying for the return of the hostages that remain in captivity,” said Yael Branovsky, head of The Jewish Agency office in Poland.

February marked two years since the outbreak of the war between Russia and Ukraine and more than six months have passed since the beginning of the war in Israel. Many Jews who fled the war in Ukraine are anxiously following the events in both countries.

“We have family and friends in Israel and Ukraine. We have friends and family living in cities being bombed in Ukraine, and we have cousins who recently returned from reserve duty in Gaza. From morning until night, we follow the news in Israel and Ukraine with concern; this reality is very tough, and we hope that both wars will end quickly,” said Yeugenia and Boris Fogel, an elderly couple who fled Ukraine a few days after the war began. “We are from Zaporizhia; just a few days ago, our house was bombed again. We are very worried – constantly on the phone with our relatives and friends both in Israel and Ukraine; it’s an unbearable reality.”

The Fogels are considering making Aliyah (immigration to Israel), and are grateful for The Jewish Agency events in Poland to help maintain their Jewish practice in such a tumultuous time.

“The Jewish tradition has always been present in our lives. This evening, when we read the Haggadah together, sang, and talked with members of the community who are in a similar situation, it made us feel the warmth in our hearts. For a few hours, it felt like life was normal, and we celebrated Passover as we usually do,” the Fogels added.

“Jewish life in the Diaspora and the connection to Israel are important at all times, especially now. It is uplifting to see such a large number of Jews who fled the war in Ukraine maintaining the Jewish tradition and connecting to Israel through the extensive activities of The Jewish Agency,” Branovsky added.

The Seder included traditional Passover Seder plates, Haggadahs, matzah, and other food for those in attendance. The participants were led by Jewish Agency Madrichim (guides), originally from Ukraine now living and working for The Jewish Agency in Warsaw, where they read the Haggadah, sang songs, and the children searched for the Afikoman.

“This year, Passover, the holiday of freedom, is different and special. We all think of the captives in Gaza and hope for their return. However, Israel is a strong country, both in spirit and in action, and knows how to defend itself. Israel is a center for Jewish life and existence in the world, and there is a place in it for every Jew who wants to make it their home. A strong and connected Diaspora is also very important, and I want to thank The Jewish Agency for its incredible activity,” said Dr. Yaakov Livneh, Israel’s ambassador to Poland, who attended the event.

Michael Schudrich, Chief Rabbi of Poland, also attended the Seder and added, “Our strength is in our unity. I am happy to see everyone here celebrating Passover and praying for the freedom of the Jewish people.”

The multi-pronged efforts initiated by The Jewish Agency to help the Jews of Ukraine after the outbreak of the war was unprecedented in its scope. Within 24 hours, The Jewish Agency, with the assistance of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, set up 18 emergency response centers in Ukraine and its neighboring countries of Poland, Moldova, Hungary, and Romania in order to assist the massive wave of refugees.

Throughout the first year of the war, The Jewish Agency facilitated the Aliyah of over 15,000 Ukrainian Jews. Once they landed in the Jewish state, they were placed in hotels across the country as part of the Israeli government’s “Operation Coming Home,” which was led by the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration.


Media Contact:
Jake Sharfman, J Cubed Communications

About The Jewish Agency for Israel:

Since 1929, The Jewish Agency for Israel has been working to secure a vibrant Jewish future. It was instrumental in founding and building the State of Israel and continues to serve as the main link between the Jewish state and Jewish communities everywhere. This global partnership has enabled it to address the Jewish People’s greatest challenges in every generation. Today, the Jewish Agency connects the global Jewish family, bringing Jews to Israel, and Israel to Jews, by providing meaningful Israel engagement and facilitating Aliyah. It also strives to build a better society in Israel – and beyond – energizing young Israelis and their worldwide peers to rediscover a collective sense of Jewish purpose. The Jewish Agency continues to be the Jewish world’s first responder, prepared to address emergencies in Israel, and to rescue Jews from countries where they are at risk.