Ukraine: YU Faculty Educate, Students Provide Humanitarian Relief

Yeshiva University is addressing the ongoing and unfolding crisis in Ukraine. Because of the breadth of talent across the University, YU faculty are uniquely positioned to inform and educate on the crisis, from its historical and political roots to the cybersecurity and high-tech aspects of contemporary warfare.

YU students and faculty are also organizing refugee relief efforts to help alleviate the suffering of the Ukrainian people.

Engaging with the issues that matter and giving back to those in need are core pillars of YU’s Jewish values and commitment to shaping a better future for the global community. Listed below is a sample of the University’s efforts to inform and to offer support to those suffering from the the crisis in Ukraine.

“YU is both a cutting-edge research university and an institution of Jewish ethics and values,” said Dr. Selma Botman, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “Because of that combination, we engage with issues that matter for our world. YU is proud to bring to the public our extensive intellectual resources in order to educate and to provide help to those in need.”

Yeshiva University Humanitarian Mission to Aid Ukrainian Refugees in Vienna

ukraine yu educate humanitarian
YU students leave on a humanitarian mission to help Ukrainian refugees.

On Sunday, March 13, 2022, 27 YU students traveled to Vienna, Austria, on a relief mission to help Ukrainian refugees by bringing supply packages for refugees, supporting housing, distributing donations and providing Jewish school programming for kids. They are due back to the United States on March 20.

The mission is being led by Dr. Erica Brown, vice provost and director of the Sacks-Herenstein Center for Values and Leadership, and Rabbi Josh Blass Mashgiach Ruchani [spiritual supervisor] at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS).

“The incredible response of the students is so encouraging,” said Dr. Brown. “It reminds us all that evil is combated by thousands of acts of kindness. It’s the Jewish way. It’s about believing that every single person has within the power to redeem darkness.”

Panel Discussions and Faculty Insights on the Crisis

YU has launched a series of panel discussions about Ukraine on key issues facing the country and the region. “In these difficult times, the University can serve as a place of light and a space for dialogue as we navigate the present moment,” said Dr. Ronnie Perelis, director of the Rabbi Arthur Schneier Program for International Affairs. “YU has experts in so many fields that can share their knowledge and insight about the crisis in Ukraine, and we are honored to be doing just that with these panel discussions. We hope they can be a resource for our students and the wider YU community.”

Other events in the series:

Listed below are details about the remaining events in the series. Recordings of the panel discussions can also be found at Crisis and Hope: YU Voices.

Elegy for Odessa

Monday, March 28, 2022 | 8 p.m. |

Moderated by

  • Dr. Jess Olson: Associate Professor of Jewish History


  • Dr. Jacob Wisse: Associate Professor of Art History
  • Dr. Val Vinokur: Associate Professor of Literary Studies, the New School
  • Dr. Amelia Glaser: Associate Professor, Russian Literature, University of California, San Diego


Trauma and Repair: Psychologists and Social Workers
Reflect on the Ukraine Crisis

Monday, April 4, 2022 | 8 p.m. |

Moderated by

  • Dr. Jess Olson: Associate Professor of Jewish History


  • Dr. Jordan Bate: Assistant Professor, Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology
  • Dr. Vera Békés: Assistant Professor, Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology
  • Dr. Nancy Beckerman, LCSW: Professor, Chair Advanced Clinical Practice, Director of Faculty Mentoring, Wurzweiler School of Social Work
  • Dr. Lisa Henshaw, LCSW: Assistant Professor, Chair Trauma Curriculum, Wurzweiler School of Social Work

History, the Holocaust and Judaism’s Unique Connection to Ukraine

Judaism has a deep and fraught history with Ukraine that leaves the two peoples indelibly linked.

YU is investigating this connection with insights from key players, keeping the Jewish memory and future alive in Ukraine.

“As Jews, we care deeply about the roots of our past in Ukraine and are dedicated to playing a role in its future,” said Dr. Shay Pilnik, director of the Emil A. and Jenny Fish Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Yeshiva University. “How can Ukraine go from the horrors of the Holocaust just 70 years ago to having a Jewish president in Volodymyr Zelensky now? These are the types of questions we seek to answer every day at YU.”

To obtain those answers, a collaborative initiative of the Fish Center and the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center, JewishGen, Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center, Association of Holocaust Organizations, the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust hosted “Ukraine: Past, Present, Future” on Sunday, March 13, 2022, where almost 1,200 participants had the privilege of joining a Zoom meeting with Ruslan Kavatsiuk, Deputy CEO of the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center and Natan Sharansky (who was born in Ukraine), Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center.

The meeting was moderated by Dr. Pilnik along with Mark Weitzman (COO for the World Jewish Restitution Organization) and Kelley Szany (vice president of education & exhibitions for Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center).

Read the article about the event, which also contains a link to a video recording of the hour-long meeting.