Holocaust organization struggles to continue

Association begins to receive donations; 30 companion cats are in need of new home following building's sale.

By MELANIE LIDMAN
February 16, 2011 19:03
2 minute read.
Cats up for adoption

cats for holocaust survivors. (photo credit: Melanie Lidman)

A non-profit organization dedicated to providing elderly holocaust survivors with basic needs like food, laundry, and electrical appliances may have to close its doors next week after their current building was sold and the organization hasn’t found an affordable alternative. The 12-year-old Association for the Immediate Help of Holocaust Survivors, which is completely run by volunteers, assists over 3,000 survivors across the country. But director Tamara More is worried that this could be the end for the organization.

An article earlier this week in The Jerusalem Post about the fate of the organization elicited responses and outcry from around the world, including donors from as far away as Australia and a 1,000 LE donation from the British Embassy. But the main challenge is finding a new building for the organization’s heavy machinery, including their industrial-sized washing machines, dryers, refrigerators, and freezers. The organization is considering closing for a few months to reorganize, but can’t even afford rental storage. Last month, they had less than NIS 600 in their account.

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Holocaust survivor center loses building, may close

According to government statistics, more than 60,000 Holocaust survivors live below the poverty line, though thousands more are perilously close, More told the Post. Her organization aims to provide for the immediate needs of the survivors—a handyman for basic repairs, a space heater in the winter—that often fall between the cracks of the government services.

More said she has no ill feelings towards the previous owner of the building who “desperately needed the money,” or the new owner who wants to tear down the dilapidated buildings and rebuild. “They bought private land and they are not to blame, the body to blame is the Israeli government,” said More. She accused the government of neglecting the survivors, denying them reparation funds from the German government, and failing to recognize them as survivors for years, forcing them to lose years of benefits.

She explained that her small volunteer organization faced an uphill battle trying to provide better housing and other solutions that should be the responsibility of the government. 

Even more pressing than finding a building for the equipment is finding homes for the 30 cats and two dogs that the organization gives to Holocaust survivors to alleviate the sometimes unbearable loneliness of elderly survivors living alone. “These are cats that have served the country as friends to holocaust survivors,” said More. “Some of the survivors were so depressed they would say, ‘I wish I didn’t wake up today,’ but after we gave them a cat they would be so excited to have someone waiting for them at home when they came back from the doctor’s office.”

The organization is looking for people to adopt the cats or provide donations for their upkeep. They are also appealing to the public to help them find a place to move in the center of the country, anywhere from Hadera to the airport, or donations to help with paying the rent. .

Interested parties can contact the organization at (03) 525- 7888 or [email protected].


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