Meeting with Ukraine's Pres. Zelensky
Meeting with Ukraine's Pres. Zelensky Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce

As Russia’s invasion continues to wreak havoc on the lives of millions of Ukrainians, Jew and non-Jew alike, numerous organizations have thrown their resources to assist those affected, including fleeing refugees and residents hunkering down in shelters across the nation.

Most prominent among these organizations is the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce, which immediately sprang into action as the Russian invasion commenced in the wee hours of the morning in Ukraine.

Using a multi-pronged approached, the Chamber used its extensive connections to contact officials in Ukraine and the United States to ascertain the needs of the citizens caught in the crossfire of war and to ensure that the support is provided to them in a swift and efficient manner.

Officials from the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce were in near-immediate contact with deputy head of the Ukrainian parliament’s Health Committee Oksi Dmytrieva, connecting the high-ranking official with US Congressman and member of the House Armed Services Committee Rep. Andy Kim to ensure that all that could be done to assist those affected was being done.

The Ukrainian official provided the Congressman a list of various humanitarian needs urgently required by citizens of the deeply affected areas. Several hours later, Rep. Kim confirmed that the requested items would be included in a massive $350 million aid package being sent from the United States to Ukraine and distributed to the specific locations requested.

“Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked aggression against Ukraine has put countless civilians in harms way. Ukrainians didn’t ask for this war, but they are asking for help,” said Congressman Andy Kim (NJ-03). “I’m proud to see our government helping by working hard with our NATO allies to arm Ukrainians and sanction Russian banks, I’m inspired by Ukrainians taking up those arms to defend their freedoms, and grateful to organizations like the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce for facilitating aid to as many Ukrainians as they can.”

Numerous other Congressmen and US government officials have been in contact with the Chamber as well to determine the specific needs of Ukrainian citizens and facilitate shipments of aid to those in need.

The Chamber has also been in direct contact with the chief deputy of Ukraine’s Cherkasy region, Alexander Gorobets, to ascertain the need of his constituents and ensure the provision of medical supplies and other humanitarian aid in US packages to the country.

Additionally, organization representatives has been in contact with the Jewish Agency in Israel to assist the tens of thousands of refugees stranded at the borders as they seek passage to safer countries.

At a more local level, coordination efforts are ongoing with Ukraine Hatzolah founder Nachman Steinberg to determine the needs of the people they serve and to ensure the continuity of high-level assistance from the Cherkasy government to all citizens in the region.

The work being conducted by the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce was made possible through years of laying groundwork and forging high-level connections in Ukraine. Prime amongst these efforts was Chamber CEO Duvi Honig’s 2019 visit to Ukraine for the sole purpose of strengthening relations through commerce and amplifying the Jewish community’s standing with top Ukrainian officials.

Mr. Honig met with President Volodymyr Zelensky, members of Ukraine’s Parliament, and federal, regional, and municipal officials to promote the building of mutual relationships and bridges through business ventures, thus creating a strong framework for the life-saving efforts being conducted now.

“Years of work, done quietly and without fanfare, ultimately pay off, and we are now seeing how,” Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce CEO Duvi Honig says.

“We are using our connections and our relationships at every level of government within Ukraine and the United States to literally save the lives of people in war-torn Ukraine,” he said. “That didn’t just magically happen. It is happening because of the efforts we have been investing into Ukraine.”

“Still there is a tremendous ongoing crisis,” Honig added. “There are innumerable refugees who are in need of the most basic necessities – food, shelter, and clothing.”

Officials on the ground have been pleading with the Chamber to assist with the refugees’ needs, with one saying, “Refugees are in a worse situation than Yetzias Mitzrayim (the Exodus from Egypt - ed.). They have nothing. Nothing.”

“We are actively deploying our resources and using our connection to help those people,” Duvi Honig said. “We will leave no stone unturned in our effort to assist them.”