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Southern Nevada rabbi to visit Ukrainian refugees in nearby Poland

Poland Russia Ukraine War
AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu

People at a makeshift camp wait to board a train heading for Krakow, after fleeing from Ukraine, at the border crossing in Medyka, Poland, Thursday, March 10, 2022.

A Henderson rabbi is on his way to Krakow, Poland to support some 150,000 Ukrainian refugees who were displaced by the Russian invasion.

Krakow is about 800 miles west of the Ukrainian border.

The influx of Ukrainian refugees has increased Krakow’s overall population by 20% in just a few weeks.

Rabbi Sanford Akselrad will join rabbis from the U.S., Russia and Israel, providing moral and pastoral support, relieving volunteer workers and comforting orphans, victims of a war that has resulted in one of the greatest humanitarian crises in recent history.

He said primarily, they will be raising funds.

“We've raised well over half a million dollars; we have been tasked with bringing bring needed supplies. And so collectively, we're bringing over two tons of medical supplies and clothing and all kinds of things that are vitally needed by the population of refugees,” he said.

Most importantly, he said they want to bear witness to what’s happening.

“When we come back, we'll have stories to tell. I think that's important,” he said.

With refugees coming to America, he said it’s time to “rally the community” to absorb them and give them jobs, and it’s something he said he can do in a leadership, pastoral role.

Despite a small number of Ukrainians practicing Judaism, Akselrad said they are holding a Passover dinner on Tuesday night on the border.

“The theme of Passover is about being a stranger in a strange land, speaking truth to power and standing up to power,” he said.

The trip started as a group of rabbis from New York, and about 27 to 30 rabbis are traveling to the border.

“It's an unjust war. It is. There's a lot of war crimes, and therefore the world needs to rally around,” he said. “We have to believe that God will overcome evil, we have to believe that if we feel that there are times when God is silent, we must not be silent.”

Sanford Akselrad, rabbi, Temple N’er Tamid

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Dave Berns, now a producer for State of Nevada, recently returned to KNPR after having previously worked for the station from 2005 to 2009.
Kristen DeSilva (she/her) is the online editor for Nevada Public Radio. She curates content on, our weekly newsletter and social media for Nevada Public Radio and Desert Companion.