Commemorative candles to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Among the roughly 180,000 elderly Holocaust survivors living in Israel, 25% live below the poverty line and nearly 40% feel lonely, according to a recent report by the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel.
In an effort to alleviate that sense of isolation, the nonprofit NGO Adopt-A-Safta is pairing young professionals with at-risk survivors to provide communication, affection and invaluable resources. And while its Hebrew name indicates grandmother, the program “adopts” grandfathers as well.
“Working off of the Big Brother/Big Sister model, our young volunteers will adopt a grandmother or grandfather in Israel that is in need of love and attention,” the organization said on Wednesday.
“Our goal is to train as many volunteers as possible and to connect these two communities – young professionals seeking to make meaningful contributions and the survivors in need of warmth and connection – while we still are blessed with the presence of this holy generation.”
Jay M. Shultz, the CEO of the foundation, which works with Nefesh B’Nefesh and the Israel Forever Foundation to spearhead the initiative, said the timing of Adopt-A-Safta is critical.
“We see no need to wait another day,” Shultz said. “Too much is lost waiting for others to act, waiting for permission, waiting for money. We know that we can make a major dent in the problem of comforting lonely Shoah survivors today.
Not to do so as a responsibility, but as a noble honor.”
Each volunteer, Shultz said, will be responsible for visiting their adopted grandmother or grandfather throughout the year, engaging in regular phone calls, and maintaining reports on their well-being.For more information, go to www.AdoptASafta.com or www.facebook.com/AdoptASafta.