Jorge Diener
Executive Director, Hadassah International

Exodus Re-enacted: Passover Eve Healing Ukrainian Refugees

Hadassah International Executive Director Jorge Diener (left) with member of the Hadassah Humanitarian Mission in Ukraine Team. Photo courtesy of Hadassah.
Hadassah International Executive Director Jorge Diener (left) with member of the Hadassah Humanitarian Mission in Ukraine Team. Photo courtesy of Hadassah.

This is Passover Eve and Jews around the world are sitting around family tables remembering the Exodus of the Children of Israel from slavery in Egypt to freedom.

As we read the Haggadah, the book that helps us remember the story, we reenact a celebration of freedom. One of the central parts of the reading and singing is Ma Nishtana, “what’s different tonight,” and we find four answers to those questions.

As we are experiencing the worst humanitarian catastrophe of this century, without end in sight, I have written my personal reflection for this specific Passover Eve.

“What is different tonight from any other Passover night?”

Every Passover night, we SIT in our beloved homes. This Passover I join our medical teams at the Poland/Ukraine border in HEALING refugees.

Hadassah Clinic in Poland. Photo courtesy of Hadassah.

Every Passover night, we REMEMBER freedom. This Passover, we ACT to liberate Ukrainian refugees from suffering.

Every Passover night, we READ about struggles from the past. This Passover, we DO anything we can to help mothers, children and families escaping the brutality of Russian attacks.

Every Passover night, we CELEBRATE the freedom of our own people. This Passover, we CARE for the freedom and survival of the Ukrainian people and for humankind.

Passover is not just a remembrance of a founding moment in Jewish history. It is a story that places freedom from oppression as the core value of human existence.

As I see the tragedy of the Ukrainian people in the eyes of the refugees, I cannot visualize any other place to be on Passover Eve but with them.

Over the past several weeks, I have taken a personal commitment to do as much as I can to help those living this new Exodus, escaping the horror. I have been in Poland almost all this time, among others because I remember what I have been reading at every Seder family table since I was old enough to read: “In each generation, every person needs to see himself as if he has left Egypt.”

For me, that act of liberation, represented in the actions taken by those who chose freedom over slavery, has marked my entire life.

And in this generation, seeing myself as if I had taken that action, represents a call for action now. Because this is not a moment to simply remember; these are times to change the course of history and preserve the world as a planet of free people, free from the Pharaohs of the modern world.

Everybody can play a part in this story.

I am here, my medical colleagues are here too.

We will prevail.

The Hadassah Humanitarian Mission at the Polish Ukrainian border is a joint project of Hadassah, Hadassah International and Hadassah Medical Organization.


About the Author
Jorge Diener is currently the Executive Director of Hadassah International, the international arm of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc. (HWZOA), supporting the Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO) in Jerusalem and promoting its mission of healing, teaching and research in different parts of the world. Diener, through his activity as a senior fundraiser for major capital gifts has solicited and closed seven and eight figures major gifts in the fields of health, education, social and community work. Over the years, Diener's professional activity has focused on adding international value to local leaders, companies and organizations through a combination of training, consulting, coaching and networking building. Throughout his activity as consultant and trainer for companies, NGOs and public institutions, Diener has developed innovative models that enable grass-root movements and well-established NGOs to grow their support through human and financial capacity building. Diener, before starting his consulting and training practice, served for many years as a Senior Director at the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, where he gained extensive international experience after spending years of service in Latin America, North America, Europe, the countries of the Former Soviet Union and Israel. He trained, coached and consulted for over 1000 leaders and managers of all different backgrounds and sectors. He has been a keynote speaker at several international events as well as providing consultancy and advice on communications, strategy and fundraising to NGOs and governments across the globe.