By: Elishama Marmon  | 

YU Raises $210,000 in Donations for Ukrainian Refugees After Herensteins Match Funds

Terri and Andrew Herenstein, the founding donors behind the Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks-Herenstein Center for Values and Leadership, matched the $105,000 raised by YU students to help Ukrainian refugees hosted by Vienna’s Jewish community. 

The money was sent by Yeshiva University’s finance department just before Pesach and was used to provide food, housing, clothing and other general and holiday needs for the over 800 refugees that Vienna’s Jewish community has taken in.

This fundraising effort was a part of “Operation Torat Chesed,” the mission to help Ukrainian refugees fleeing from the Russian invasion. YU students campaigned on various platforms to try to raise the money, and 480 people stepped forward to donate over $105,000 dollars to the cause. In addition to the fundraising effort, YU previously sent 28 students and two administrators to Vienna to assist the refugees over the week of Purim, which the Herenstiens joined.

“I believe the Herensteins decided to match the student campaign because they were very proud of the hard work students did in getting the word out, in writing, posting, tweeting and making videos about the trip and the campaign to feed Jewish refugees,” Dr. Erica Brown, founding director of its Sacks-Herenstein Center told The Commentator.

Yedidya Schechter (YC ‘24), one of the students who went on the Vienna trip, reflected on his time there with the Herensteins. He said “They personally played games with refugee kids, talked and cheered up the adults and genuinely expressed their care and thoughtfulness to all they encountered.” 

“They had even brought a bag of cookies to personally distribute to the YU students on the long plane ride,” Schechter added. 

Oskar Deutsch, the president of the Jewish community in Vienna, sent a video on behalf of the community thanking the students, President Ari Berman and the Herensteins for supporting their efforts to save the lives of these refugees. 
“We have answered the call of the highest Jewish value: pikuach nefesh, the protection of life,” said Deutsch in the video. “Each and every one of you [students] lives up to this value.”

Photo Caption: YU students pose with President Ari Berman in Vienna, on a relief mission for Ukrainian refugees.

Photo Credit: Yeshiva University