As the Russian invasion of Ukraine nears its fourth week, Yeshiva University (YU) sent undergraduate students to Vienna to participate in a Ukrainian refugee relief mission. The trip, March 13-20, was led by Vice Provost of Values and Leadership and Sacks-Herenstein Center Director Erica Brown and Mashgiach Ruchani Rabbi Josh Blass. The 27 New York-based undergraduate students are supporting the hundreds of Ukrainian refugees relocated there, with educational activities for children, donations, supplies, and the coordination of housing. Yeshiva of Central Queens students made personalized Purim cards for the Jewish Ukrainian children, and the YCQ Board of Trustees (BOT) and Parent Teachers Organization (PTO) worked overnight to secure $4,000 worth of Purim crafts for the YU mission. partnered with YCQ, discounted the cost, and donating several hundred dollars’ worth of supplies to the worthy cause.

When asked about YCQ’s participation, Mrs. Aliza Peled, YCQ Board of Trustee Member, stated, “At last week’s BOT meeting, we discussed the situation in Ukraine as it frames so much of what is on our minds. We felt there was a teachable moment for our students and so worked with Rabbi Mark Landsman, (Principal of YCQ) on this initiative. He was inspired by the idea of doing something more than t’filah and T’hilim, and so the Purim card initiative was born. Our generous YCQ PTO Board and BOT immediately committed to assisting financially. We have tremendous hakaras ha’tov to for partnering with us on this important initiative. They literally worked through the night so we could pack and deliver the craft supplies. This entire undertaking was executed in a matter of 24 hours. Special thanks to Mrs. Sandra Dua, YCQ Elementary School Teacher, who directed the Grades 4–8 students’ drafting of notes and well-wishes.”

YCQ PTO Co-President Julie Faska reported, “It was an unbelievable opportunity that dropped into our laps. Everyone feels stuck and helpless about the events in Ukraine. We created an opportunity for the students and the adults to do and help. Even though it’s not nearly enough, we feel proud that we empowered YCQ students, and YU students, to facilitate kindness and achdus.”