Dedicated to Ukrainian Refugees in the Bay Area

Rarely has our community had so many simultaneous urgent matters calling for our immediate attention. From the pandemic to the war in Israel to a global upsurge in antisemitism to our Bay Area security needs, we have collectively been in a state of high alert.  

With so many crises in our midst, it could be easy to lose sight of the ongoing plight of several thousand displaced Ukrainian men, women, and children who have sought refuge in the Bay Area since the Russian invasion nearly two years ago. But neither our partners, Jewish Family and Children’s Services (JFCS) nor Jewish Family and Community Services (JFCS East Bay) have forgotten them. In fact, they have redoubled their efforts to tend to their legal, medical, and social service needs.  

Most of the displaced came to our city with virtually nothing—not even the language. They needed food, clothing, financial assistance, housing, job training and placement, legal assistance, medical care, and mental health services. In the face of such enormous challenges, the Federation has partnered with JFCS and JFCS East Bay through the Ukrainian Resettlement Initiative, granting hundreds of thousands of dollars to help ease the difficult transitions facing Ukrainian refugees throughout the Bay Area. 

During a JFCS Legal Services clinic, volunteer attorney Nick Keats (center) and volunteer translator Zhenya Leonov (in gold) met with a mother who recently arrived in the Bay Area from Ukraine.

Both organizations implemented their grants immediately.  
JFCS hired a volunteer services manager who has reported that, with the help of their grant, their team of volunteers is now better equipped to provide “English classes, translation services, one-on-one conversation partners, group therapy, and legal support.” JFCS East Bay brought in a Russian-speaking therapist who has played a vital role in attending to the mental health needs of those traumatized by war and displacement.   

You cannot imagine how many people are coming with PTSD. How many kids are suffering from trauma coming from war. And the therapist that we have been able to hire has done a truly wonderful job helping them.

- Zoya Lazer, JFCS East Bay Senior Ukrainian Refugee Program Lead

Despite the enormous strides they’ve made to respond to the vast needs of the Ukrainian refugee population, significant challenges persist.
Housing, employment, language skills, and social isolation remain substantial barriers to their well-being. Still, Zoya and JFCS East Bay Volunteer Services Coordinator Kate Duggan have shared detailed accounts of how the mix of volunteers, staff, and community support has led to many positive outcomes for the people they serve.  

The connection between JFCS and JFCS East Bay employees, volunteers, and the communities they serve is deep. And the impact they are making on the lives of the displaced can last lifetimes. Nevertheless, their work for Ukrainian refugees is far from complete, as their hardships and needs are often complex.  

“Their needs are not cookie-cutter,” said Nancy Masters, JFCS Associate Executive Director. “It depends on the immediacy, where the family is, how long they’ve been here, whether there are children… whether they need legal services, medical services… there are so many issues that families are struggling with…  But we're in regular communication with staff at the Federation about the work we’re doing and greatly appreciate the funding that Federation has obtained to support these efforts.” 

Though funding from JFNA for this work ended in December 2023, your continued support to our 2024 Annual Campaign allows us to grant funds to organizations like JFCS and JFCS East Bay. Please consider giving as generously as you can or recommend a grant through your donor-advised fund. 


January 23, 2024


Jon Moskin