Ina Garten Shares An Emotional Family Connection To The Ukraine Crisis

Since Russia launched a full-scale military invasion of Ukraine in February, millions of people around Eastern Europe have been displaced from their homes. Continued fighting throughout the country has forced many residents to become refugees, seeking safety in neighboring countries. As of March 3, The New York Times reported that an estimated one million people had already fled Ukraine.

Over the past few weeks, celebrities around the world have spoken out against the conflict. But for those with direct ties to the region, it's an especially emotional time. Actress Milla Jovovich, who was born in Kyiv, wrote on Instagram that she was "heartbroken" by the events, adding that she had some "friends and family in hiding." Ukrainian-born actress Mila Kunis called the attacks "devastating" in a video for a GoFundMe she and her husband Ashton Kutcher launched to support relief efforts for those affected by the fighting (via YouTube).

Another notable figure who shares a personal connection to the area is celebrity chef Ina Garten, who was born Ina Rosenberg and is the granddaughter of Polish-Ukrainian Jewish immigrants who came to the U.S. during the early twentieth century (via Buzzfeed.News). The Food Network star posted a family photo on Instagram, voicing her opposition to the war and revealing how a different war in Ukraine from many years ago once affected her own family. 

Garten's grandmother escaped violence in Ukraine

"My grandmother (left in the photo) came from Odessa in the early 1900's to escape the dreadful pogroms and made a wonderful life for all of us in America," Garten shares alongside a black and white photo of herself and family members. "People who knew her say I am just like her," she reveals, pointing out that her grandma influenced her future interests adding, "She also brought me that off-the-shoulder dress from Paris, starting my life-long love for that beautiful city."

The pogroms Garten refers to in the caption were a series of violent riots carried out against Jewish people throughout Eastern Europe, and specifically Kyiv, Ukraine during the Russian Civil War in the late 1910s (via The United States Holocaust Museum). The mass brutality resulted in the death of thousands of Jewish Ukrainians, in addition to leaving millions without a home.

The "Barefoot Contessa" concluded her tribute to her grandmother by calling for an end to the present fighting in Europe, hashtagging #stopthewar. She also sent out her thoughts for those in Ukraine affected by the current invasion, writing "My heart goes out to everyone who is forced to fight for or flee their homeland because of a horrific war."