On Sunday at sundown, Yom HaShoah begins. Writing at JTA, Rabbi Eckstein says that his solemn day - Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Day - is not just a time to commemorate those lost during the Holocaust, but also a call for us all to help those who survived:
We must act now, before it’s too late. There are some 400,000 survivors still alive, but their average age is 85. Many of these survivors, at least 280,000, are living their final days in crippling poverty. One-fourth of Israel’s 180,000 survivors and one-third of the 100,000 survivors in the United States live below the poverty line. Survivors and other elderly Jews in the former Soviet Union, which lacks even a basic social safety net, endure unimaginable conditions.
These are the forgotten survivors. Like Lova, in her late 80s, who lives in a tiny rural village outside Kiev. Lova had no heat for six months when my organization, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, visited her this winter. We brought her food, water and a blanket, but she was wrapped in tattered material, her hands exposed and purple from the bitter cold. Lova was among the more fortunate we met – she saved a few cans of scraps from the summer and had a few buckets of unfrozen drinking water. We visited Olga, in her early 90s, to find a can of pickled beets covered with maggots in her dilapidated kitchen. She had no water because she was too weak to chop wood for her stove.
For years the Fellowship has been aiding these forgotten survivors in Israel and the FSU. Thanks to millions of generous people worldwide, mostly Christians who love Israel and the Jewish people, we have raised over $1.4 billion in the past 20 years. Just last year we were able to help 1.6 million Jews with $140 million in aid, among them 128,000 poor survivors, with basic needs such as food, water, blankets, medicine and heating fuel.
Yet it is just not enough. Tens of thousands more survivors worldwide desperately need our help...