IN THE NEWS: Aiding Holocaust victims

Shani McManus, Staff Writer


Dec 23, 2013

Nearly seven decades after the Holocaust, many elderly South Florida survivors are in dire financial straits, some struggling just to put food on the table. Despite financial aid from local Jewish agencies, the need far surpasses the funds.

The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) has played a large part in helping to fill that need. The Claims Conference administers compensation funds, recovers unclaimed Jewish property and allocates funds to institutions that provide social welfare services to Holocaust survivors and that preserve the memory and lessons of the Shoah.

Recently, the Claims Conference has received an additional $4 million grant from The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation to provide emergency assistance to Holocaust victims in North America.

Jenni Frumer, associate executive director of the Alpert Jewish Family & Children's Service in West Palm Beach said the new funds are "absolutely critical" for those who are in most need for services and care.

"While asking for help is not easy, many Holocaust survivors genuinely need help with food, medications, transportation and in-home care to optimize their independence as they age," she said. "AJFCS is indeed most grateful and appreciate for these funds so that we can help those most in need."

Kenneth Moskowitz, chief executive officer, Jewish Family Service, of Broward County said the biggest challenges survivors face is "stretching their limited resources" to meet their most basic needs of food, clothing and shelter.

"The Weinberg funds help them avoid situations where they may have to choose between buying medication or buying food," he said. "These funds along with Claims Conference assistance help ensure that our Holocaust survivors live out their lives in the least restrictive environment with dignity and respect."

Sandra Bird, director of case management programs at Jewish Community Services in Miami Dade said the additional funds "provide an invaluable, extra measure" of assistance to survivors-in-need such as additional medical equipment and devices, short-term homecare and medications as well as temporary housing assistance.

"As this vulnerable population ages and wants to remain living in their own homes as independently as possible, they require additional and more costly services," she said. "JCS greatly appreciates the on-going support of the Weinberg Foundation that is making a considerable difference in the lives of our survivors."

Danielle N. Hartman, president and CEO, Ruth Rales Jewish Family Service in Boca Raton said the additional funds are greatly needed.

"We continue to see an increase in the needs of our survivor population as they age in place and become increasingly frail, outlive their resources and have no family to help care for them," she said.

The need for funding is personified by 72-year-old Plantation resident Bela Dery, a Holocaust survivor from Romania, and a recipient of the Weinberg Foundation grant.

"I am so grateful," she said. "It's really helping me. I have nobody else to help me."

Ruth Rales Jewish Family Service (JFS) offers help, hope and humanity through a comprehensive range of programs and services which support people of all ages and beliefs. With locations in Boca Raton and Delray Beach, JFS programs and services include food and financial assistance, senior services, counseling and mental health services and many volunteer opportunities. Funding is provided by private and corporate support, grants, special events and individuals who reach thousands in need each year. For more information about JFS volunteer opportunities and services for seniors, contact (561) 852-3333.

Photo Captions: Holocaust survivors get together at a recent Café Europa event. (Staff photo/Eric Bojanowski / December 3, 2013)

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