Holocaust survivor 224.
(photo credit: AP)
The Aviv Association for Holocaust Survivors has gone on-line, seeking to make its expertise in helping survivors claim their rights more accessible to the survivors and their families.
According to the organization, tens of millions of shekels in available benefits for survivors go unclaimed because survivors, their families and even many social workers are unfamiliar with the assortment of benefits offered by a myriad of agencies.
The sheer number of groups involved in providing the benefits is one of the problems, said the organization's founder, attorney Aviva Silberman.
They range from rent subsidies from the Finance Ministry's Office for Rehabilitating the Disabled to television and property tax discounts from the National Insurance Institute, from an organization that coordinates grants to Red Army veterans to a special fund that helps French Jews orphaned in the war.
Needy survivors are even eligible for as-yet unclaimed subsidies for medical care and emergency call buttons, along with other services, according to the organization's database.
"The only culprit here is ignorance," said Silberman.
Itself hurt by the financial crisis rocking world markets, Aviv is seeking ways to empower survivors and their families to conduct the research on their own. That, said Silberman, was the rationale behind the new Web site.
"We understand that most of the survivors would have a tough time navigating a Web site to find their benefits, but we're trying to empower their children and grandchildren to do for them what we would be doing if we could - to find organizations and funds and connect with them properly," she said.
The Web site, www.avivshoa.co.il, is interactive, allowing visitors "to get answers from experts," said Haggit Grobestein, an attorney working at Aviv.
Besides explaining the benefits in great detail, the site allows visitors to download application forms and maintains an updated list of changes to legislation affecting survivor benefits.
The site is also a coordinating point for volunteers. Together with Yad Vashem and the Kibbutz Movement, Aviv has trained some 50 volunteers in helping Holocaust survivors claim their benefits.
The Web site tells the story of a volunteer on Kibbutz Dalya who obtained more than NIS 100,000 for the kibbutz's 19 Holocaust survivors by applying to a fund for Hungarian survivors.
Using volunteers, the Internet and public appearances at old age homes and community centers, Aviv believes it can bring millions of shekels in benefits to the neediest members of society. "There are millions and millions of shekels unused. Survivors could be eligible for a few hundred per month, or a few thousand or tens of thousands. But they can only get these funds if they know where to ask for them," said Silberman.