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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle donate to Jewish group to help Ukrainians

The British royals’ donation of an undisclosed amount is the highest profile to HIAS so far

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle recently announced a donation to HIAS, the largest Jewish nonprofit for refugee assistance, one of a slew of contributions they are sending to help suffering Ukrainians.

The British royals’ donation of an undisclosed amount is the highest profile to HIAS, formerly known as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, which has seen donations flood in since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine Feb. 24.

HIAS vice president of development Miriam Feffer said the outpouring of donations following the invasion — $20 million in less than a month — outpaced the nonprofit’s end-of-year fundraising campaign and typical quarterly totals.

Donors have included local Jewish Federations and the Schusterman Foundation, which have given in the $500,000 range, corporate donors such as Airbnb, and also, Feffer said, unexpected and smaller donors, such as “Dog Twitter” — literally Twitter users who love dogs.

The contribution from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex came through their nonprofit, the Archewell Foundation, and is helpful in several ways, Feffer said.

“The impact of a donation from such influential supporters transcends the immediate financial benefit of their generous gift,” she said. “We are confident that their investment in our response to the emergency in Ukraine will inspire entirely new audiences to learn about HIAS and follow their example as supporters.”

Feffer said that some of the donations will go to support on-the-ground HIAS partners like Right to Protection, known as R2P, which has about 160 workers assisting both internally displaced Ukrainians and refugees who have crossed the border. That means funding immediate needs like food, shelter, and blankets.

The rest will go to a variety of other aid programs: legal aid for refugees, mental health support, and partnering with Jewish communities in Poland, Slovakia and Moldova to help accommodate the influx of refugees.

About 3.5 million people have fled their homes in Ukraine since the war began.

According to Feffer, the influx of donations compared only to the aftermath of the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh. Before that attack, which killed 11 people and wounded six others, the alleged shooter posted antisemitic comments about HIAS on the social network Gab.

“People are deeply personally invested in this story,” Feffer said.


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