The Conference of European Rabbis (CER) is working extensively to ensure that thousands of Ukrainian Jewish refugees can celebrate Pesach. The CER is also funding and supporting communities throughout Europe to welcome and integrate these displaced families and individuals into their communities, offering them a permanent home.
In Poland, the CER is supporting over 15 Pesach sederim across the country, allowing over 1,500 refugees to celebrate Passover. These refugees fled to Poland following Russian’s invasion of Ukraine. The CER is facilitating the manpower and kashruth supervisors needed to arrange so many sedarim, as well as funding the food and resources needed for these events. Local rabbis, including many members of the CER, will lead the sedarim, and Russian-speaking staff will engage with the refugees in their mother tongue. This entire operation is being coordinated by Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich, the official CER spokesperson in all matters pertaining to the Russia-Ukraine Crisis and member of the Standing Committee.
The CER is also heavily involved in supporting communities in Romania. The Tikvah community of Odessa, Ukraine, had to flee and has made themselves a home in Neptun, south-east Romania. The Tikvah community numbers over 1,200 people, all of whom are refugees. The CER are supporting them. CER rabbis, Rabbi Baksht and Rabbi Kruskal are leading these efforts, giving them pastoral, practical, and spiritual guidance. The CER is currently planning Pesach preparations for refugees across Romania.
Moldova has been a transit country for Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion. Many refugees are in the country for only two or three days at most. The CER has supported both the Agudah Jewish community and the general Jewish community, to allow them to run two respective Pesach sedarim for over 1,000 Jewish refugees.
In Hungary, the CER is supporting the Orthodox Jewish community in Budapest to host a communal seder. Throughout the crisis, the CER has sponsored the provision of Kosher food in Budapest to all of the refugees that may desire it.
In addition to these vast relief efforts across refugee centres and the Eastern and Central Europe countries that have had an influx of people fleeing the war, the CER has also invested in longer term projects to help Ukrainian refugees, supporting several communities across Europe, such as Vienna, Austria, and Munich, Germany, to take in and absorb those wanting to make a permanent home in those cities.
Regarding the CER Pesach Aid initiatives, Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich stated, “As we recite in the opening passage of the Haggadah, ‘Whoever wants, come and celebrate Pesach; whoever needs, come and eat.’ The Conference of European Rabbis is doing all it can to ensure that this is a reality for the thousands of stranded and displaced Jewish refugees, who have left their homes in the face of war. Now they will be able, along with the rest of the Jewish people, to sit and celebrate Pesach, free from danger and hunger.”