‘Jewish Nobel’ Honors Response to Ukraine Crisis

By Brian Zumhagen


2023 Genesis Prize Awarded to Jewish Activists Working to Uphold Ukraine’s Independence and Alleviate the Suffering of the People of Ukraine

In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, HIAS committed considerable resources and expertise toward assisting clients displaced by the conflict, which has triggered one of the world’s largest refugee crises. On the eve of the war’s anniversary, HIAS’ efforts have been recognized: We are among the Jewish activists and organizations honored by this year’s Genesis Prize (also known as the “Jewish Nobel”) for working to uphold Ukraine’s independence and alleviate the suffering of its people.

“During the past year, we have been moved to see Jewish communities, organizations, and individuals step up to respond to the fastest-growing refugee crisis since World War II. We are honored that HIAS staff, volunteers, and partners are among those recognized by the Genesis Prize for standing with all those who are living out the injunction repeated more than any other in the Torah: to welcome the stranger, the imperative at the center of our work to protect the refugee,” said HIAS President and CEO Mark Hetfield. “HIAS will continue to provide critical services to people who have been forced to flee their homes in Ukraine — just as we will continue to work with refugees, asylum seekers and other forcibly displaced people all over the world.”

Hetfield added that HIAS’ efforts have been greatly assisted through a close partnership with Right to Protection (R2P). Founded by HIAS after the 2014 Russian invasion of Crimea in, R2P is now an independent Ukrainian organization dedicated to, and largely staffed by, displaced persons. Hetfield also noted that outside of Ukraine, through the Welcome Circles initiative launched in 2021 to resettle people evacuated from Afghanistan, HIAS and HIAS Europe are now helping people displaced from Ukraine find welcome in new communities not only in the United States, but also across the European Union.

“We would like to thank Genesis Prize Founder and Chairman Stan Polovets, Trustee Natan Sharansky, and the entire selection committee for collectively honoring all the Jewish activists and NGOs involved in this historic community effort,” Hetfield said.

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