'Giving a hand' to Israel's 200,000 Holocaust survivors

The campaign, "Give a hand to Holocaust Survivors," aims to increase awareness of the plight of survivors and was launched ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

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January 26, 2016 22:14
3 minute read.
Holocaust survivors

Holocaust survivors who have been helped by Aviv Lenitzolei Hashoah. (photo credit: BENI LAPID)

 
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Aviv Lenitzolei Hashoah (“Spring for Holocaust Survivors”), an NGO dedicated to helping survivors in Israel realize their rights, has opened a campaign calling on people here and abroad to leave a virtual hand imprint in honor of Holocaust survivors.

The campaign, “Give a hand to Holocaust Survivors,” which aims to increase awareness of the plight of many survivors, was launched ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is observed annually on January 27.

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As part of the initiative, the organization created a “virtual wall of hands” and hopes to reach some 200,000 hands – one for each Holocaust survivor living in Israel – before Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day commemoration on May 5.

The project has received wide support from leading Israeli figures including Knesset members, ambassadors, mayors and local celebrities who have all left their imprint on the virtual wall.

Dave Sharma, the Australian ambassador to Israel, has signed the virtual wall, as well.

“Australia has absorbed some 35,000 Holocaust survivors, more than any other country except Israel, and of the 120,000 Jews currently living in Australia over half are descendants of Holocaust survivors,” he said.

“After I came to Israel as an ambassador, I found that one-quarter of the survivors in Israel suffer from poverty and that many of the survivors are not aware of their rights and all the benefits to which they are entitled by law. The Aviv for Holocaust Survivors nonprofit organization works to assist survivors in the realization of their rights, and for me it is only natural to add my support to a cause so important – that each survivor will receive all the rights and benefits to which he is entitled,” Sharma said.

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According to Aviva Silberman, founder and director of Aviv Lenitzolei Hashoah, nearly half of the Holocaust survivors in Israel fall into this category.

“The majority of Holocaust survivors are unaware of the full range of rights and benefits to which they are legally entitled from Israel and abroad. For about half of the survivors, implementing these rights could lead to an additional one-time or yearly addition and often will significantly improve their quality of life,” she said.

In 2015, the organization helped some 12,500 Holocaust survivors realize their rights, Silberman said.

To date, the organization has helped some 50,000 survivors realize rights and receive benefits totaling some NIS 200 million.

“These are life-changing sums for Holocaust survivors who deal with a difficult economic reality. It is our job to make sure no survivor is left behind,” she said.

The Welfare and Social Services Ministry announced ahead of the International Remembrance Day that it will allocate NIS 50m. in 2016 for numerous programs and initiatives benefiting Holocaust survivors.

According to the Welfare Ministry, some 220,000 Holocaust survivors live in Israel, including survivors from Romania, Morocco, Algeria and Iraq whom the government recently recognized as Holocaust survivors. Their average age is 85.

“The State of Israel is committed to providing Holocaust survivors a life of dignity and well-being. Under the current budget, I have instructed the professionals in my office to increase the investment in welfare and development services that will allow this population to age with dignity, in the community familiar to them and in their natural surroundings,” said Welfare and Social Services Minister Haim Katz.

According to Katz, in 2016, the ministry will establish and enhance a number of programs aimed at improving the quality of life for survivors, including 57 new clubs for survivors that will offer transportation to and from their homes, hot meals, social activities, courses, lectures and trips.

To leave an imprint on the virtual wall visit: http://aviv.pmtsit.com/join-Hand

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