There are 45,000 Jewish Holocaust survivors in Israel who live below the poverty line. We at The Fellowship are able to help with food, heating fuel, medicine, and even companionship to 20,000 of them through our With Dignity and Fellowship program.
But every day tens of thousands of Holocaust survivors here in Israel, and even more in the former Soviet Union, have to make the draconian decision of how to divide up their meager government pension between food, medicine, heating fuel, and rent. They can’t afford all four things. Even the national government says that their allocation only provides for 40 percent of basic needs. So we try to help.
But it’s not enough.
This year I am calling for a change in the way Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, is observed. In Israel and around the world, people stand for two minutes of reverent silence on Yom Hashoah, and we have many ceremonies memorializing those who died. There are also many ceremonies marking the resistance, those who fought against the Nazis. This is all good; we should do these things.
But we should also use this day as a dramatic call to action to help the Holocaust survivors who are still amongst us, so they can live with an element of dignity in their final years.
Forty survivors die a day. Ten years from now, there will be very few, if any, Holocaust survivors left. We have a 10-year period when we must face this issue and remove the moral stain that we have allowed to happen by not caring for the Holocaust survivors still among us.
This Yom HaShoah, as we resolve “Never again!,” let us also resolve that these survivors will know dignity and comfort in their remaining days.