Survivors to receive Pessah help

Survivors recognized as needy by the Finance Ministry’s Holocaust Survivor Benefits Authority will receive NIS 1,500 each.

March 22, 2010 02:33
1 minute read.
A Holocaust survivor. [illustrative]

holocaust survivor 311. (photo credit: Isaac Harari)

The Holocaust Victims Assets Restitution Company, the official state body charged with locating and returning the unclaimed property of Holocaust victims in Israel, will begin distributing some NIS 15 million to needy Holocaust survivors ahead of the Pessah holiday.

Survivors recognized as needy by the Finance Ministry’s Holocaust Survivor Benefits Authority – roughly 10,000 of Israel’s 82,000 survivors – will receive an NIS 1,500 check from the company on Thursday. Over the course of the calendar year, survivors will receive three more such checks, for a total annual stipend of NIS 6,000.

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The Holocaust Victims Assets Restitution Company was established by a 2006 law to find and return assets once owned by Holocaust victims to their rightful heirs.

While restitution efforts have been under way worldwide for decades, little attention was paid to Holocaust-era assets within Israel, much of it in the form of long-dormant bank accounts and real estate. The company was formed to correct that lacuna, and has already located and restored hundreds of millions of shekels to tens of thousands of owners, heirs and needy survivors.

In 2010, the assistance to needy survivors alone will reach some NIS 128m., a 27 percent increase from last year.

“This year, the [company] is implementing a record number of assistance programs for survivors, from direct financial aid to defraying the cost of medications and medical treatment,” said Zvi Kanor, the company’s CEO.

It is also launching two new initiatives, a magnetic card for supermarkets that will allow the company to direct funds to survivors without fear it will be misused, and the expansion of a physiotherapy program, currently under way at Sheba Hospital in Tel Hashomer, to other hospitals nationwide.

Late last year, the company won an important victory in negotiating with several of Israel’s largest banks to begin investigating their holdings of Holocaust victims’ property, and to begin returning the funds to owners and heirs.

By law, any assets that belonged to Holocaust victims at the time of their death must be transferred to the company, which is tasked with either finding the rightful heir or, failing that, with using the funds to help needy survivors.

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