Fort Worth resident Alex Nason would never have fled the Soviet Union in 1980 without help from The Jewish Agency.
The agency, Nason explained in his proudly thick Moldovan accent, “is best known for fostering immigration of Jews to Israel — from all over the world.”
Nason, a member of Jewish organization B’Nai B’Rith International, and Fort Worth’s B’Nai B’Rith Lodge, hopes to give back the opportunities he’s received to Ukrainians who need it most. He helped organize a fundraising event scheduled for Feb. 19 to collect money to assist the organization that helped him four decades ago.
“Without them, I wouldn’t be here in America,” Nason said.
Eight million Ukrainians were displaced within their country by June 2022. Eight million more fled the country by February 2023. While human rights abuses have been documented, B’Nai B’Rith’s Fort Worth chapter sees one group’s struggle as overlooked: Ukrainian Jews.
“It’s our responsibility to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves,” said Rich Hollander, president of the Fort Worth lodge.
The event will feature an authentic, homemade four-course Ukrainian meal that includes caviar, Ukrainian wine and vodka. Dallas-based musician Goga will perform. Profits from ticket sales will be donated to The Jewish Agency.
The cause hits close to home for Nason.
“My goal is to make a small dent by providing a sizable amount of money,” Nason said. “I would like to see The Jewish Agency turning around, and helping people, like they did us.”
The Jewish Agency helped Nason 43 years ago, 11 years before his homeland of Moldova split from the Soviet Union in 1991. Today, a more pressing issue concerns the geographic area.
“Since the war broke down…close to 60,000 [Jewish] people have been on the move because some lost houses, some lost hope,” Nason said.
Ukraine’s Jewish population is close to 140,000, a sliver of the country’s total population of 43.4 million. Looking for help elsewhere may be difficult, Nason said.
“Whatever we send, we hope will make quite a difference to some who lost their homes, lost their businesses — lost everything.”
If you go…
What: Fort Worth’s B’Nai B’rith chapter
When: 6-9 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 19
Where: Congregation Ahavath Sholom, 4050 S Hulen St., Fort Worth
Cost: Tickets available at the door for $45. Ukrainian vodka, caviar and a souvenir shot glass are available for a $14 additional charge