Jewish actress Mila Kunis was born in what is now Chernivtsi, Ukraine, and came into this country as a child with her family as refugees from the former Soviet Union.
“My parents went through hell and back,” the mom of two recounted in 2016. “They came to America with suitcases and a family of seven and $250, and that’s it.”
Like many Jewish American refugees from the USSR, the “That ’70s Show” star is feeling a renewed connection with the country of her childhood after watching the atrocities unfolding on the ground as Russia invades the Ukraine, targeting civilians and the military. Now, she and her husband, Ashton Kutcher, are using their huge platform to raise money for humanitarian aid efforts to Ukrainian refugees.
“I have always considered myself an American, a proud American. I love everything that this country has done for myself and my family, but today I’ve never been more proud to be a Ukrainian,” Kunis said in a video announcing their fundraiser on Instagram.
Kutcher added that he’s “never been more proud to be married to a Ukrainian.”
“The events that have unfolded in the Ukraine are devastating. There is no place in this world for this kind of unjust attack on humanity,” Kunis went on to say. “Ashton and I have decided to match up to $3 million worth of donations to Airbnb.org and flexport.org, through GoFundMe.org, in an effort to raise $30 million.”
“Flexport is going to be transporting the much-needed humanitarian aid directly to known NGOs on the ground that can ensure that that aid will be received by the most needed parties,” Kutcher explained, later adding that the organization will be “organizing shipments of relief supplies to refugee sites in Poland, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Moldova.”
“And Airbnb will be supporting housing and cost of living to those who take in refugees,” Kunis added.
“The people of Ukraine are strong and brave, but being strong and brave doesn’t mean you’re not worthy of support. We need to support the people of Ukraine. Please help us,” Kunis pleaded to the couple’s fans and followers at the end of the video.
“Let’s support them with everything we can,” Kutcher urged.
Kunis isn’t the only Jewish Ukrainian celebrity raising awareness and funds for the crisis in the European country.
“Dancing With the Stars” pro Maksim Chmerkovskiy, a father of one and the son of a Jewish father, was on the ground in the Ukraine before he escaped the country this Wednesday.
He reported live missives on social media from his embattled home country, sharing with his viewers the human price and the terror inflicted by the Russian attack.
“This was not me trying to publicize the situation. This was me trying to cry for help. I was just screaming out like, ‘Look, this is what I just saw. I just want you to see it, whoever you are,’” Chmerkovskiy said.
Since his escape from Kyiv, Chmerkovskiy has been sharing different fundraising campaigns, including Kunis and Kutcher’s. In a video from the airport in Warsaw, he also asked to not resent Russians as individuals: “I don’t want there to be hate… they are our brothers and sisters,” he said, talking about his mother’s family in Russia.
Then, of course, there’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. As Jordana Horn wrote this week, “I’m glad that for the moment, the people of the world are on board with admiring the integrity, strength and grit of a Jew.”