Bar Refaeli promotes awareness of the conditions of Holocaust survivors.
(photo credit: COURTESY AVIV LENITZOLEI HASHOAH)
On the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, hundreds of people participated in the “March for the Living” in Tel Aviv to promote awareness of the conditions of Holocaust survivors living in Israel today.
The annual march, organized by Aviv Lenitzolei Hashoah (Spring for Holocaust Survivors), a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping Holocaust survivors in Israel realize their rights, opened with a rally outside Habima Square. From there some 500 participants, among them Holocaust survivors, marched down Rothschild Boulevard to Independence Hall.
“This is our last chance as a society to make up for the lost years and improve the treatment of the remaining survivors. This is our duty as citizens to stretch out our hands and make sure they are receiving what they deserve. I call from here for all citizens of Israel: Help us ensure that this year no survivor will be left behind,” said Aviv Silberman, the organization’s founder and director, at the march.
Actor Uri Gottlieb hosted the event, and retired Supreme Court justice Dalia Dorner, chairman of the State Investigatory Committee on Aid to Holocaust Survivors, delivered a speech in which she praised the cabinet’s decision Sunday to approve a national plan to assist Holocaust survivors.
“The government’s decision today, at the request of Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Welfare Minister Meir Cohen, may fulfill the claims of Holocaust survivors. This is a real revolution within reach of the survivors and a welcome development, but it is important to deliver aid as quickly as possible, in view of the age of the survivors. The State of Israel, established in the shadow of the Holocaust, has always seen itself as the bringer of strength of the Jewish people, whose remnants, the survivors, participated in building, in protecting, and developing [the state],” she said.
As part of the event, participants were invited to imprint their hand with yellow paint alongside their signature on a special wall erected outside the Habima Square for the occasion, to show support for the organization’s efforts to improve the conditions of Holocaust survivors.
Among this year’s participants, British Ambassador Matthew Gould, William Grant, deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy and MK Yifat Kariv (Yesh Atid), chairwoman of the Lobby for Holocaust Survivors, attended the march and imprinted their hands on the wall.
“I wanted to express support not only for the efforts of Aviv Lenitzolei Hashoah but for all organizations assisting Holocaust survivors,” Gould told The Jerusalem Post at the march.
“It is genuinely a holy task to ensure their rights and, at a point where there are fewer survivors, to allow them to live the last years of their life with honor and respect,” he said.
MK Kariv, a third-generation Holocaust survivor, praised the government’s decision to approve the national plan.
“I work all year long with Holocaust survivors and I have heard from them the struggles they face, and today we came and fixed these problems. I am with them here today, very connected, and I am with them all year long,” she said.
Ahead of the event, Aviv Lenitzolei Hashoah enlisted the help of numerous Israeli celebrities, including supermodel Bar Refaeli and television personality Eyal Kitzis, who volunteered to be the first to imprint their hands in yellow on the wall.
Some 50,000 of the 193,000 Holocaust survivors in the country live in poverty and are unaware of the benefits due to them from the Finance Ministry, Germany, the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany, the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel and other agencies.
Aviv Lenitzolei Hashoah trains volunteers, professionals and Holocaust survivors in all aspects of the rights of survivors, and helps them use and claim these rights by diagnosing their status, filling in the appropriate forms and following up through the necessary channels and procedures.