The Seen: HIAS Supporters, Racing Refugee

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MacKenzie Scott in Berlin, Germany on Apr. 24, 2018. (Jörg Carstensen/picture alliance via Getty Images via JTA.org)

MacKenzie Scott, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Have All Donated to Support HIAS’ Work in Ukraine

Billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott has donated $10 million to the Jewish humanitarian group HIAS for its work aiding refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine.

HIAS announced the gift last week as Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, revealed her latest multibillion-dollar round of charitable giving. She gave $3.8 billion to 465 organizations in this round, bringing her total philanthropic funding to $12 billion.


The HIAS grant will go toward humanitarian relief for refugees from Ukraine and help with resettlement in the countries of the European Union. Services provided to refugees by HIAS’s local partners include housing, education, health, language training and mental health with an emphasis on reducing gender-based risks for those who have been displaced by the war.

Some of the money will also help Jews from countries bordering Ukraine relocate to Western Europe, according to HIAS.

The news of Scott’s donation comes a few days after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced they have given an undisclosed sum to HIAS to help Ukrainian refugees. Far more money has flowed to HIAS in recent weeks than what the nonprofit sees over the course of a typical quarter, the Forward reported.

HIAS, formerly the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, traces its origin to the late 19th century when millions of Jews migrating out of Eastern Europe required aid. In recent years, with few Jews impacted by the world’s new refugee crises, HIAS transformed into a humanitarian advocacy group for all displaced people.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, for example, HIAS built up a presence in Ukraine and established a local partner called Right to Protection, or R2P.

Now, HIAS says that its experience and infrastructure are proving to be critical.
“HIAS has been working in independent Ukraine for over 20 years, working with Ukrainians and launching a Ukrainian-led organization (Right to Protection – R2P) to protect and welcome asylum seekers from other countries as well as displaced Ukrainians themselves,”

HIAS President and CEO Mark Hetfield said in the statement that announced Scott’s gift. “Today, we are working with partners — many of whom are displaced persons themselves — to help refugees and the displaced be safe, welcome, and able to lead their lives until they can finally return home.”

Scott, who is now married to Seattle science teacher Dan Jewett and whose net worth is estimated at $55 billion, has contributed to HIAS in the past. Last year, she gave HIAS an undisclosed sum along with gifts to two other Jewish nonprofits as a part of a $2.7 billion funding round for 286 organizations.

— Asaf Shalev

Ukrainian Refugee Wins Women’s Race at Jerusalem Marathon

Valentyna Veretska, a Ukrainian athlete who fled with her daughter as Russia attacked her country, won the women’s race in the Jerusalem marathon on March 25.

Veretska completed the grueling marathon in the hilly city in 2:45:54 seconds, draping herself in the Ukraine and Israel flags after crossing the finish line.

The 31-year-old had applied to run the marathon before the war; she had previously won the women’s marathon in Tirana, Albania, in October.

The war Russia launched on Feb. 24 sent her and her daughter into Poland, while her husband has stayed in Ukraine to fight.

Israel has taken in close to 17,000 Ukrainian refugees since the conflict began, and Israel’s sports ministry said on March 24 that it is ready to take in 100 athletes.

Israeli Olympian Ageze Guadie won the men’s race at 2:37:17.

— Ron Kampeas

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