There are about 193,000 Holocaust survivors residing in Israel today. Unfortunately, according to a report published by the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel, nearly 50,000 of those survivors are living in poverty. Particularly disturbing, the study revealed that one out of five survivors had to choose between food and medicine.
Fortunately, there are several organizations in Israel that work to support Holocaust survivors and enable them to maintain their dignity when encountering financial difficulties. Organizations such as Meir Panim have relief centers throughout the country that offer hot meals free of charge and help feed Holocaust survivors.
Of particular note is a restaurant in Tiberias that feeds the hungry with nourishing free meals. The generosity of Mrs. Lee Steinberg of New York helped establish the Meir Panim Free Restaurant in Tiberias approximately 12 years ago. Dedicated in memory of Mrs. Steinberg’s parents, Eva and Morris Fish, this restaurant is a warm haven for Israel’s most vulnerable citizens. Meals are served daily and are always hot, fresh and satisfying. A very important aspect of the restaurant is the homey and welcoming atmosphere. In addition to feeding the hungry, the restaurant gives the clientele, many of them Holocaust survivors, an opportunity to socialize and helps them build a network of friendships. No one is turned away and everyone is treated with the respect they deserve.
Mona, a frail 78 year old Holocaust survivor with a heart-wrenching story, suffers from a heart condition and lives off a meager stipend. At times she cannot afford her electricity and medical bills. Thanks to Meir Panim, she is able to enjoy delicious meals, and interact with other people at the same time. She is also able to pack up food for her sister who is bedridden. In addition, every Shabbat and before major Jewish holidays, the restaurant offers free prepackaged meals to survivors such as Mona and to the disadvantaged citizens of the city of Tiberias.
With philanthropists and socially conscious donors such as Mrs. Steinberg who are committed to helping Holocaust survivors, Meir Panim helps improve survivors’ quality of life, and ensures that their remaining years are filled with comfort and dignity.