As the world marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day and remembers the millions who died at the hands of the Nazis, Rabbi Eckstein writes at The Jerusalem Post that we all have a moral responsibility to help the survivors of the Holocaust, so many of whom still struggle through life in abject poverty:
This January 27, nations around the world mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, commemorating the most horrific evil ever perpetrated upon humanity – the near destruction of European Jewry.
It was fitting, then, that during a special Knesset ceremony on December 20, 2016, I was honored on behalf of The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, along with eight other individuals and organizations, to receive the Beacon of Light Award from the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims. Limor Livnat, chairwoman of the foundation, said the annual awards pay tribute to those dedicated to improving the lives of survivors, honor Holocaust survivors who have excelled in their contribution to Israeli society, and recognize volunteers improving survivors’ quality of life.
I was humbled that The Fellowship was recognized for its longtime dedication to helping needy Holocaust survivors in Israel at a time when the entire world prepares to memorialize the victims of the Holocaust, in a global annual event the United Nations General Assembly launched in 2005 to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
While the ceremonies and awards are important, they also serve to underscore a largely ignored humanitarian tragedy of global proportions that we as a community are not doing enough to address: Today, many of the world’s remaining 500,000 Holocaust survivors are living out their final years in poverty. Most of those who are suffering live either in Israel, across the former Soviet Union, or in greater New York City.
Of 189,000 Holocaust survivors in Israel, 25% live below the poverty line. Among the 60,000 survivors throughout the former Soviet Union, poverty is endemic – approaching 85-90%. Even in New York City, home to another 60,000 survivors, about half live below the poverty line.
This is nothing short of a humanitarian crisis...