In the wake of a report published by the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel this Yom HaShoah, which showed that 40% of Shoah survivors feel lonely, 12,000 lack proper heating, and 5% suffer from shortages of food, Adopt-A-Safta (safta is the colloquial form of savta – grandmother) has urged Israelis to consider its program which pairs young adults with survivors of the Shoah who feel lonely.
Founded in 2012 and working off of the Big Brother/Big Sister model, the Haifa-based group’s young volunteers “adopt” a grandmother or grandfather in Israel that is in need of love and attention. “Our goal is to train as many volunteers as possible and to connect these two communities: young adults seeking to make meaningful contributions, and the Survivors in need of warmth and connection,” their website explains.
“We see no need to wait another day – too much is lost waiting for others to act,” Adopt-A-Safta declares. “We know that we can make a major dent in the problem of comforting lonely Shoah Survivors today; not to do so as a responsibility, but as a noble honor.”
All prospective volunteers are required to complete an online application, and make a commitment to meeting with their adopted grandparent at least once a week for at least one year.
Each volunteer attends a 3-hour training session prior to being matched with their adopted grandparent. Working with an elderly population can present unique challenges, the group cautions, noting that aging in the shadow of the Holocaust presents its own unique set of challenges which is why volunteers are required to attend the mandatory training session.
Each volunteer is also required to report to their program supervisor, and in their first month on the job each volunteer is required to check in every week.
According to the group, more than 500 young professionals have already joined the Adopt-A-Safta community in making a commitment to work with the Survivor community in Israel.