Members of Ken Lazaken, an NGO that aims to defend the rights of the country’s
senior citizens, held a vigil outside Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s
residence in Jerusalem on Wednesday to raise awareness about the elderly’s daily
Natan Lavon, who has worked as a social worker and founded
Ken Lazaken eight years ago, explained that his organization assists senior
citizens with minor things as well as life-threatening issues.
years ago, for example, one of the volunteers answered a phone call from a woman
who had a simple question.
They ended up discovering that she had been
homeless for three years, spending her nights on buses. Six weeks later, thanks
to the organization’s efforts, she was placed in a nursing home in
Today, according to the organization’s statistics, 20 percent
of the country’s senior citizens live below the poverty line. In addition, only
33% are entitled to a pension of about NIS 3,200 from their former workplaces,
and 40,000 seniors are waiting for public housing placements.
an idea, which still exists, that if there were no old people, the country’s
situation would be better,” Lavon said.
Participants at the vigil, the
majority of whom are retired, held signs that read, “Let us live honorably in
this country,” and “Nursing care and hospitalization as a right and not a
“I’m one of the happy old people,” Lavon said, “but I’m very
sensitive to human rights.”
He added that the government, on the local
level, was not sensitized enough to the elderly’s needs.
important places have no elevators, no handrails to facilitate things for old
people,” he said.
He is also involved in representing senior citizens at
the Knesset and says he has managed to accomplish a few things in the past eight
years, including raising Holocaust survivors’ allowances by 50% four years
“I prefer to solve problems without making too much noise,” he
Marit Lavi, a volunteer at the association, used to work at
the National Insurance Institute and is now retired.
She said she wanted
to send a message to the elderly people with whom she worked that she was here
“It is seeing how powerless they are that brings me here
today,” she said, holding her sign for passing cars to see.
volunteer, Shlomo Ben-Yona, said he was especially concerned about senior
citizens’ right to receive medical care and hospitalization according to their
needs. He explained that often, people had to pay a hefty sum just for falling
in the street and having Magen David Adom take them to the
“Unfortunately my wife needs the treatment and care. But you
know, today it’s for me, tomorrow for someone else. Nobody knows when they will
need this,” he said, holding on to his cane. “We can’t ask the families to take
care of the financials behind it – the government needs to do it. And by
forgetting to care of the elderly, they are forgetting the people who built this
country from scratch.”
Ken Lazaken director Bianca Yoel said the
organization provided a phone line for seniors to call for help with
bureaucracy, or just for emotional support.
“It feels good to know you
make a difference in people’s lives,” she said.
“Those things like
helping them get another NIS 500 that they are entitled to seems like nothing to
us, but to them, it makes all the difference.”
Government spokesman Mark
Regev told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that many vigils are held outside the
prime minister’s residence and that the government does not routinely comment on
all of them.