Jewish Federation of Madison leaders visit refugees in Poland

MADISON, Wis. – Leaders from the Jewish Federation of Madison returned from a trip to Poland Tuesday after spending 48 hours at the Ukrainian border.

The organization’s president Joe Shumow and executive director Alan Klugman took the trip to see their organization’s fundraising efforts in action and learn where more help was still needed.

“Behind everything that you see on the news, behind the numbers, behind the statistics are heartbreaking stories of very real people,” said Klugman.

The Jewish Federation of Madison has so far raised 100 thousand dollars for their Ukraine Emergency Campaign; for their trip they took along more than 500 pounds of much needed over the counter medication.

“So many people respond so quickly,” said Klugman. “In five days people were coming every single day to offer what they could.”

While in Poland the pair toured refugee centers and heard stories from people calling those shelters home.

“It’s everything all at once right, you’re inspired, you’re heart broken,” said Shumow. “You see humanity at its absolute worst, you see humanity at its absolute best. It’s all happening at the same time.”

Klugman also said though it was devastating to see so many people struggling he was inspired by the number of people from all over the world offering their help.

Back in Madison the pair is determined to share the stories of those they met abroad hoping they leave an impression.

“It should give all of us a sense of there but by the grace of god goes I,” said Shumow. “There’s no reason that it’s not you or me.”

The Jewish Federation of Madison also has plans to organize a group of volunteers to send to Poland for a couple of weeks.

Klugman said they are looking for people with a background in psychology, social work, and teaching who speak Ukrainian or Russian.