The government on Tuesday announced plans to increase the basket of services
aimed at improving the daily lives of thousands of aging Holocaust survivors in
Announced at a special cabinet meeting dedicated to the subject
of the Holocaust -- ahead of national Remembrance Day starting Wednesday night –
the additions will include an increase in the annual budget for services to NIS
225 million for 2012. Also, some 8,500 survivors will receive an additional NIS
580 a month on top of a special monthly pension of between NIS 2000 and NIS
“Today's decision adds to the many actions we have taken in recent
years on behalf of holocaust survivors,” commented Netanyahu, who recommended
the additions together with Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, Deputy Minister for
Senior Citizen affairs Leah Nass and Knesset Finance committee Chairman Moshe
“Time is urgent and the survivors are, to our sorrow, leaving our
world,” he added. “We want to remember those who perished, the six million
brothers and sisters, and heed the lessons of the Holocaust in order to ensure
the future of our people."
Ness pointed said that there are approximately 200,000 survivors still living in
Israel and roughly 70,000 of them experienced directly life in concentration
camps and ghettos during the war.
“Until recently, many of them had not
even tried to utilize their rights,” said Ness, adding that in recent years her
ministry has been successful in reaching more than 120,000 survivors and
providing them with government assistance.
Finance Minister Steinitz
noted that the budget for the Holocaust Survivors Rights Authority, headed by
Ofra Ross, currently stands at NIS 2.9 billion, as opposed to NIS 1.5 billion in
2005, and added that the Authority is currently dealing with almost 90,000
Holocaust survivors, as opposed to approximately 51,000 in 2005.
steps taken by the government to increase financial aid, services and generally
improve the lives of thousands of survivors, many are still unaware of their
rights and some are not eligible for any assistance at all. It is also estimated
that one-third of those still alive live below the poverty line.
the government made its announcement Tuesday, Hebrew news website Ynet revealed
that the Company for Location and Restitution of Holocaust Victims' Assets had
been forced to cut back on the monthly stipends it hands out to more than 10,000
The company, which was created in 2007 to help locate assets
that once belonged to Jewish families, explained that its budget to help those
still alive is based on money or property unclaimed by its original owners. In
that light, the company told Ynet, “we have no choice but to reduce a little
assistance this year, because these are the funds available to
According to figures released earlier this week by the Foundation
for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel, there are 198,000 Holocaust
survivors in Israel, with the vast majority (88 percent) being over the age of
75. Nearly 20,000 of the survivors require round the clock care and assistance
in their day-to-day life.
A report published last year by the
American-Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) Meyers Brookdale Institute,
noted that by 2015 the number of survivors left will have fallen by more than 30
percent to 145,000.
The Foundation and other organizations working with
survivors have emphasized that despite the rapid fall in numbers, the needs of
those survivors still alive has greatly increased.
Earlier on Tuesday,
the Prime Minister together with Steinitz, Ness, Deputy Health Minister Yaakov
Litzman and Minister Yossi Peled heard the personal stories of numerous
Holocaust survivors at a hostel for the elderly.
Following the visit
Netanyahu emphasized the importance of helping to keep the survivors alive in
order to continue remembering the atrocities of the Holocaust.
activity reflects the power of life, which is also based on the power of
memory,” said Netanyahu. “If you are alive, you remember and in order for us to
continue to live, we must remember.”