Local Jewish leaders applauded the unanimous passage of a congressional resolution to help elderly Holocaust survivors through existing federal programs for the aging.
The nonbinding statement, which passed on Dec. 1 by a vote of 207-0, urges the Obama administration and the Department of Health and Human Services to provide survivors with much-needed social services through existing programs.
It also highlights the ongoing work of nonprofit agencies to honor and assist Holocaust survivors.
The Community Relations Committee of United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ praised the resolution in a Dec. 1 press release.
It noted that a vast majority of the 127,000 Holocaust survivors in the United States are over the age of 75 and live alone.
Many survivors “struggle to afford basic needs, such as adequate food and health care” and “more than half of them fall below 200 percent of the federal poverty line,” according to the CRC release.
Five New Jersey representatives — Donald Payne (D-Dist. 10), Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-Dist. 11), Bill Pascrell (D-Dist. 8), Leonard Lance (R-Dist. 7), and Albio Sires (D-Dist. 13) — were among the cosponsors of the resolution.
“I am glad for any help the [survivors] are getting,” said Barbara Wind, director of the Holocaust Council of MetroWest. “I wish more were forthcoming from Germany. There are many survivors who have to decide between buying medicine and buying food, and many of them suffer from health issues. Not that there aren’t many poor people in America, but in the case of Holocaust survivors, their problems are exacerbated.”
CRC chair David Lentz called the resolution “an important step forward in ensuring that Holocaust survivors are able to age in place in comfortable and familiar surroundings that promote their dignity, value, and quality of life.”
The Jewish Family Service of MetroWest is among the local agencies that offer programming for needy survivors.
“Although the number of Holocaust survivors is decreasing, the needs of this last generation are growing in scope and intensity due to advanced age and frailty, said JFS executive director Reuben Rotman. “Compounding the problem is the fact that atrocities during the Holocaust have caused so many to survive alone with no other family members. It is up to organizations such as ours to step up and serve as the last surviving relative for any survivor in need of care,” he said.