The next five-year period is the last chance to undertake a national effort for the welfare of Holocaust survivors, according to a report to be released Monday by the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel.
The foundation’s report, released ahead of Holocaust Remembrance Day, notes there are approximately 193,000 Holocaust survivors living in Israel today, with an average age of 85.
More than 60% of these Holocaust survivors, some 123,000, have received assistance from the foundation. Of the applicants, 86% live on an income of less than NIS 5,000 a month and 66% of these survivors live on less than NIS 3,000.
More than 36,000 Holocaust survivors requiring financial assistance over the past two years turned to the foundation to receive reimbursement for medical expenses. Every month there is an average of 2,000 new requests for assistance, plus around 600 new requests for nursing care.
According to foundation estimates, the coming years will see an increase in the needs for nursing care and financial assistance and will be a critical period for helping Holocaust survivors.
After this period the trend will reverse, as the mortality rate of survivors overtakes their needs.
The findings also show that every month more than 1,000 Holocaust survivors die in Israel. The data further reveal that two thirds of the survivors are women and 46% of the survivors cared for by the foundation live in the center of the country, 31% in the North, and 18% in the South.
“The figures present a grim picture about the situation of Holocaust survivors in Israel in 2014,” said foundation director Rony Kalinsky.
“The winds of change in the policy of the current government and the understanding that time is against us are encouraging, and we hope that this trend will continue,” he said. “We have a very short window of opportunity of five years to guarantee that Holocaust survivors live the rest of their lives with dignity. As of today, the survivors are sicker, more isolated, poorer, and unfortunately their numbers are decreasing more and more.”
The report stated that the over the course of the past year some progress was made to benefit the growing needs of Holocaust survivors. Foundation activities resulted in a rise in the number of survivors eligible to receive additional hours of nursing care – from some 25,400 last year to 26,800 in the coming year due to a NIS 35 million increase in the budget subsidized by the government. Furthermore, the Claims Conference also transferred some NIS 300 million in financial assistance, primarily for nursing care.
Numerous social projects are also available to assist Holocaust survivors, including a computer and Internet program for 350 survivors in cooperation with ORT Israel and the Estates Committee, as well as a legal clinic, in its third year, funded by the foundation in cooperation with the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya.