Building Jewish-Ukrainian Community Relations

By Jeff Dawson
Associate Director, Jewish Community Relations Council
Published June 30, 2023


In my capacity as the Associate Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) for Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County, I’ve had the honor of addressing the Ukrainian-American community at rallies for Ukraine, organized by UA Florida. Federation values JCRC fostering connections across diverse communities, understanding that each interaction helps weave a tapestry of understanding and unity. This work not only promotes goodwill but also cultivates an enriching exchange of culture, ideas and mutual support. It is in this spirit that my engagement with the Ukrainian-American community in Palm Beach County takes on significance. It signifies the building of bridges between Jewish-Americans and Ukrainian-Americans—two communities with rich histories, united in the quest for peace and justice.

On June 1, 2023, we celebrated International Children’s Day—a day meant to spotlight the rights and welfare of children around the world. Yet, this day was not one of celebration for all. In Ukraine, a brutal war has led to unspeakable tragedies on a regular basis. Since February 24, 2022, tens of thousands of Ukrainian civilians have been killed, including more than 478 children. Approximately 1,000 children have been injured and an estimated 300,000 children have been forcibly deported from Ukraine to Russia. Stories like these, of innocent lives torn apart by conflict, strike a blow to our collective conscience.

As a representative of JCRC, I see the echoes of our past. Our historical experiences, from the horrors of the Holocaust to our triumphs in creating a just society, inform our shared sense of responsibility to speak out against such atrocities. Our Jewish values of “Tikkun Olam,” the commitment to heal the world, and “Pikuach Nefesh,” the principle that the preservation of human life overrides other considerations, compel us to stand with the Ukrainian community in this dire time.

This is why our alliance with organizations like UA Florida is crucial. It is an opportunity to act on our principles, and by extending our support to the Ukrainian-American community, we demonstrate the shared human values that bind us. It is essential we advocate for justice, the protection of innocent lives and the ultimate victory of peace and human dignity. These shared aspirations echo through the halls of our own history, resonating in the stories of our ancestors and inspiring our actions today.

I hope you will join me in standing with the Ukrainian-American community and leverage our collective strength against Russian aggression, and together, make a stand for Ukraine and its children’s future. Let’s sign this petition and raise our voices against murder, tyranny and oppression. You can view my June 3, 2023, speech on how to stop the killing, kidnapping and deportation of Ukrainian children here, and my February 24, 2023, speech on why Americans should support Ukraine here. Our unity—our capacity to stand together—is our greatest weapon against the darkness. It is a testament to the power of relationship-building and solidarity in our shared quest for a better world.


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