When we contemplated publishing this magazine, we knew it was an undertaking of the utmost importance. Although seven decades have passed since the end of the Shoah, we are fortunate to have hundreds of thousands of Jewish victims of Nazi persecution still with us. It is incumbent upon us to ensure that Holocaust survivors and their families are aware of the wide range of services available to them and how to access them.
We also want to be sure that the needs of survivors are high on the Jewish communal agenda. While there are many pressing issues facing us in these complex times, surely this is the among the most important and time-sensitive — the generation of survivors alive today is the last.
For us, it has been a privilege and an honor to work with, and for, Shoah survivors and their families. The Claims Conference is a robust organization, assisted immeasurably by a vibrant network of community partners and dedicated team members. All of them are committed to the mission of providing Shoah survivors a small measure of justice and comfort in their final years.
All of our achievements — the original compensation programs, the liberalization of the restrictions governing those programs as well as new programs and the funding for social welfare assistance — are meaningless if survivors and their families are not aware and don’t understand them.
For many, compensation programs and social welfare assistance can be a complicated maze. Eligibility criteria has evolved dramatically. We want to be sure you have the most current eligibility requirements — please check the compensation chart within (page 15). We urge survivors and their families to contact us, and we will help access what is available to them.
In the following pages, you will find highlights regarding various Claims Conference initiatives and information about compensation, home care and new and changing benefits. You will meet some of our staff working behind the scenes to build and maintain our programs.
Apart from compensation and social welfare assistance, we will share with you our efforts to preserve the memory and ensure wide dissemination of the history and lessons of the Shoah. This is an urgent priority, as individual survivor accounts continue to slip from memory to history. So, whether sitting and connecting with an individual survivor, or providing funding for the activities of our Research, Education and Documentation (RED) team, we aspire to preserve the historical record and to ensure that subsequent generations never forget.
But this magazine is not just for Shoah survivors. People often tell us that they didn’t know there were so many survivors still alive who need assistance. Many wonder how they can help.
Please consider volunteering at a Café Europa, or spending time with a survivor. We guarantee this: you will gain more from such an experience than you will give.
In the final pages of this magazine, you may see some familiar faces in the photos of Holocaust Survivors Advisory Committees across North America who work tirelessly on behalf of survivors.
The Claims Conference had a lot of “firsts” this year and you will learn about them in these pages. This magazine, published in advance of Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, is one of them. We welcome your feedback.
With gratitude for your interest and support,
Juliusm Berman, President
Greg Schneider, Executive Vice President