As Holocaust survivors age their need for assistance increases, whether for dental care, medicine, eyeglasses or walkers, transportation to doctors’ offices, short-term home care and even food. In addition to the Claims Conference, the two main sources of funding have been the Swiss Banks Settlement and the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation — both of which have extended their grants beyond their initial time period.
The Claims Conference established an Emergency Assistance (EA) program to provide small grants for the most vulnerable Holocaust survivors facing short-term emergencies. There are stringent income levels for eligibility, but sadly there is no dearth of survivors in need of this support. For example, a grant could be used to help a survivor pay for rent during a month in which her money was used for her spouse’s funeral and for food — so that an elderly survivor never has to choose between meals and rent.
To date, the Weinberg Foundation’s funds have been utilized by 46 organizations in the U.S. and Canada. In Portland, Oregon, Jewish Family and Child Service enabled Mira A., a Holocaust survivor, to receive treatments that dramatically improved her gait. She has reported to her case manager that both her sleep and her mood have improved.
Risa Berris, director of geriatric case management at Jewish Family Service of Metropolitan Detroit, shared a story of a survivor living alone with limited mobility, diabetes and severe arthritis. As a result, she is in need of daily assistance for most activities. Through the EA program, she obtained a lift chair, which provides her greater mobility, safety and independence.
Holocaust survivor Bella M. fled from Ukraine to Kazakhstan at age 4 with her family and now lives in northern California. She was provided assistance for medication and transportation to doctor appointments. Bella’s family appreciates the positive impact of such assistance on her life; the case manager at Jewish Family Services of Silicon Valley says Bella’s “will to survive is inspiring.”
If you want to support Emergency Assistance programs, please
contact any of the agencies found on page 22, Jewish Federations of North America, or your local federation.