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September 21, 2014 / 26 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘assistance’

A Call to Action: Shut Down the Claims Conference

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

By Naomi Vilko, MD

Many Jewish Americans are unaware not only of the sordid behavior of the Claims Conference (Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany); they are also unaware of its existence and mission. Established in 1951, the Claims Conference has the tasks of negotiating for compensation and restitution for Jewish victims of Nazi persecution and of distributing payments from the German government to individual Jewish Holocaust survivors and the social services agencies that serve them.

Shamefully, $57.3 million intended for survivors was stolen from the Claims Conference by 31 people – 11 of them employees – over 16 years. [For more information, please read Isi Leibler’s numerous articles covering the Claims Conference scandal on his blog.] Now, influential Jews including Ronald Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress and Natan Sharansky, Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel have insisted upon an independent investigation into the Claims Conference fraud as well as a change in its leadership and governance. I am grateful to Rabbi Mark Golub of Shalom TV, Isi Leibler of The Jerusalem Post and staff writers from The Jewish Daily Forward and The Jewish Week who have been following the Claims Conference scandal and pressing for justice for the survivors. I hope that we can mobilize the Jewish community to quickly close this corrupt agency and transfer the funds to another agency who will distribute them in time to help those in need.

Many Holocaust survivors have not received compensation for their suffering and losses because for some of these aging victims, the process is simply too painful; others have not received compensation because the Claims Conference is at best, difficult and obstructionist, and at worst, corrupt. Claims Conference officials have also continued to expand the definition of “Jewish victim of Nazi persecution”. Today, it administers programs providing funds not just to those who survived ghettos, concentration camps, forced labor battalions and death marches, but to anyone who fled Nazi invasion, lived in hiding, or lived under curfew. As a Psychiatrist specializing in trauma, I am well aware that it is difficult to tease out the quantitative and qualitative differences between different traumatic experiences – but I am certain that those who survived concentration camps (the youngest of whom are in their 80s) should receive assistance immediately and without the frustration of dealing with the uncaring staff of the Claims Conference and its various agencies.

My mother and I have dealt with the issue of reparations since my father, a survivor of 5 concentration camps, death marches, Hungarian forced labor and a ghetto, died suddenly in 1962. My father was denied any compensation. As his widow and a survivor herself, my mother appealed, but the appeals were denied. Recently, I again contacted several Jewish agencies in a futile attempt to assist my now 92-year-old mother with paying for her home-care. I was astounded to learn that if she only needed assistance 20 hours/week, she would receive funds, but since she requires 24-hour assistance (which she pays for herself) she will receive nothing to defray the expense. We were advised that she could go on Medicaid and/or be sent to a nursing home.

Jewish social agencies are doing the best they can to help survivors, but they say that they have limited funds. After helping themselves to large salaries and allowing fraud to persist under their noses for over a decade, is it any surprise that the Claims Conference does not have enough funds for the survivors it “claims” to serve? Furthermore, while it is commendable in theory for the Claims Conference to work to expand eligibility for these funds, I must ask: if there is not enough money available to help the survivors who have already been identified, what is the result of such efforts beyond making the bread lines longer?

It is an outrage and an embarrassment that the Claims Conference has continued to operate without oversight, even after failing in its responsibility to adequately investigate and prosecute the fraud for so many years. We must shut down the Claims Conference and transfer the funds to an existing agency, such as the Jewish Federation or the World Jewish Congress that can quickly prioritize the way funds are distributed to survivors. We have an obligation to take care of those who have been tortured and enslaved because they are Jewish – before it’s too late.

There are many survivors who have no children to care for or advocate for them and who live isolated lives in apartments with no services and little human contact. My hope is that raising awareness of the additional psychological trauma survivors experience as a result of the reparations and compensation processes and, specifically, the New York based Claims Conference itself, may lead the Jewish people to take action. Let’s face it: The Jewish people have not adequately taken care of the survivors, who are now extremely elderly and dying. They are entitled to live the last years of their lives with dignity.

Senator Squadron to Host NY After Sandy Resource Fair

Saturday, December 8th, 2012

Tomorrow, Sunday, December 9, State Senator Daniel Squadron will host “New York After Sandy,” a resource fair and community conversation that will serve as a one-stop shop for New Yorkers in need of assistance or who want to get involved with recovery efforts and long-term planning.

Brooklyn: 11AM-2PM, Galapagos Art Space, 16 Main St (DUMBO)

Manhattan: 3PM-6PM, Murry Bergtraum HS, 411 Pearl St

The resource fair will bring together representatives from government agencies, utility companies, social and legal service organizations, volunteer groups, and others who can help in Sandy’s aftermath. As disaster assistance deadlines near (December 31st in many cases) and utilities remain out in many buildings, this will provide New York residents and businesses with an opportunity to have their questions answered and get direct help or sign up to volunteer.

The event will also include a community conversation on New York City’s long-term recovery and how the city can prepare for future emergencies — allowing New Yorkers to make their voices heard on next steps.

US State Dep’t: Alan Gross Begins Fourth Year of Unjust Imprisonment

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Mark C. Toner, Deputy Spokesperson for the US State Department, released the following statement on Monday:

“Tomorrow Alan Gross will begin his fourth year of unjustified imprisonment in Cuba. He was arrested on December 3, 2009 and later given a 15-year prison sentence by Cuban authorities for simply facilitating communications between Cuba’s Jewish community and the rest of the world.

“Mr. Gross is a 63-year-old husband, father, and dedicated professional with a long history of providing assistance and support to underserved communities in more than 50 countries.

“Since his arrest, Mr. Gross has lost more than 100 pounds and suffers from severe degenerative arthritis that affects his mobility, and other health problems. His family is anxious to evaluate whether he is receiving appropriate medical treatment, something that can best be determined by having a doctor of his own choosing examine him.

“We continue to ask the Cuban Government to grant Alan Gross’s request to travel to the United States to visit his 90-year-old mother, Evelyn Gross, who is gravely ill. This is a humanitarian issue.

“The Cuban government should release Alan Gross and return him to his family, where he belongs.”

How You Can Help the People of Sderot

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

A letter from the Sderot Mental Health Center

What the people of Sderot need now is emergency mental health assistance.

The Sderot Mental Health Center for the Western Negev now handles 3,000 cases of mental breakdown with three and a half professional staffers.

All requests of the Sderot Mental Health Center for additional staff have gone nowhere.

The Sderot Mental Health Center needs at least ten professional staff.

The usual suspects have not come through, preferring to organize sexier projects such as bomb shelters (of which there are now 5,000 in Sderot alone) and projects like the famous protected playground.

People who want to help the people Sderot now organize checks to support the Sderot Mental Health Center.

Checks are payabale to the Barzelei hospital and earmarked to The Sderot Mental Health Center.

To make sure that the funds get to the source, the checks should be crossed and sent to POB 71098, JERUSALEM 91719.

(Please also mention you saw this on JewishPress.com)

Cordially,
David S. Bedein, MSW

After Sandy, Volunteers Crisscross Manhattan to Help

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

In a nearly dark corner of lower Manhattan, in an area otherwise known as Tribeca, Rabbi Zalman Paris stands tall, cellular phone in hand, to answer another call from a young volunteer eager to offer assistance. Days after Hurricane Sandy left millions across New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and New Jersey without electricity, food or water, there are plenty of people who want to help victims and their communities recover.

From his window, Paris, director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Tribeca and SoHo, watched the storm hurl itself into the homes and lives of residents nearby. The storm prevented him from venturing outdoors, but the moment he was able to, the rabbi assembled a plan and a team to help his neighbors.

“Many organizations have joined us in our efforts to help those in need during this hard time,” he said.

Paris partnered with Rabbi Levi Shmotkin of Chabad Young Professionals, Ari Teman of JCorps, and Julie Menin, a candidate for Manhattan Borough President.

“We brought in a paramedic to aid the elderly, who with no way out of their buildings needed immediate medical attention,” Shmotkin relayed.

Menin detailed that she kept the 10,000 people on her contact list updated by email.

“People would email that they needed food, water, diapers and baby formula. I then sent an email blast to Rabbi Paris,” said Menin.

All told, more than 100 volunteers traversed lower Manhattan, crisscrossing the city’s streets to visit nearly 3,000 apartment units in one day alone.

One longtime JCorps volunteer named Jillian described her experience as “eye opening.” More than 100 volunteers assisted the Tribeca effort.

“Today we visited some housing developments of the lower east side to bring food and water to the elderly and disabled citizens who are without,” she said. “You really become thankful for what you do have during a time like this.”

With the Sabbath approaching, they are hoping that the electricity will be restored.

“We may not have power, but we will definitely be spending the Sabbath with the many people and volunteers who are here with us,” said Paris. “Although many fled the neighborhood prior to the storm, our focus was on those that didn’t have anywhere to go.”

Flood of Chabad Outreach After Sandy

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Despite damage and loss of power, Chabad-Lubavitch rabbis in areas devastated by Hurricane Sandy are redoubling their efforts to reach out in their communities and provide a helping hand to Jews in need.

According to a report on Chabad.org, Chabad rabbis are keeping their Chabad houses open and functional, even without electricity.

Rabbi Avrohom Rapoport, director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Atlantic County, is keeping tabs on his community through social media, and has been sighted riding around  the streets of Atlantic City, NJ on a construction truck stocked with provisions such as food and water.  His Chabad House has erected a makeshift soup kitchen without electricity, and is sending volunteers to provide whatever assistance they can throughout the community.  Rabbi Rapoport has even established a relief fund to provide financial assistance to victims of the storm.

He’s even planning a communal Shabbat dinner this week.

Rabbi Yisroel Stone, co-director of Chabad of the Lower East Side in Manhattan, reported a total lack of power and water in his chabad house, but has been providing rides and food to Jews in the area.

In Long Beach, N.Y., Rabbi Eli Goodman said his family is safe, but their apartment is destroyed. The water in the synagogue’s social hall is “head high” said Goodman, director of Chabad of the Beaches and educational director of the local Bach Jewish Center.

The Chabad House of South Brunswick, NJ will be postponing its 10th anniversary celebration to focus on providing relief assistance, dropping off the kosher food meant for the party around town instead, for those in need.

Volunteers for the Rabbinical College of America-Chabad Headquarters of New Jersey and its Rutgers Jewish Outreach program also handed out kosher food, in their case to students of Rutgers who had been evacuated from their dorms.

Senior citizens also saw a ray of light courtesy of Chabad, with Chanie Zaklikovsky of the Chabad Jewish Center of Monroe, NJ distributing self-heating kosher meals at the local senior center on Wednesday.

Rabbi Zalman Duchman and his family, of Chabad of Roosevelt Island, NY, spent their post-hurricane time offering support to the elderly, even inviting patients from the long-term medical facility on the island over for a lunch.

Borough Park Shomrim Nab Bank Robber

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

A bank-robbing bandit was no match for a group of boychiks from Brooklyn, being arrest after an armed spree thanks to the assistance of the famous Hasidic Shomrim.

Entering a Brooklyn bank on Wednesday wearing a red skeleton mask and black gloves and brandishing a gun, suspect Kevin Crawford, 20, demanded $4,000 in 20 dollar bills and wished teller Maria Masallo “Happy f—king Halloween!”

The masked robber was soon followed by witnesses, only to be caught and held by Borough Park Shomrim volunteers, unarmed civilian patrollers from the Orthodox Jewish neighborhood whose mission is to thwart burglary, vandalism, mugging, assault, domestic violence, nuisance crimes, and anti-Semitic attacks.

Crawford allegedly held up the Dime Savings Bank of Williamsburg on Tuesday, making off with $1,960.

On Wednesday afternoon, he held up the Emigrant Savings Bank on Myrtle Avenue in Fort Greene, shouting curses at the teller.  When she did not immediately respond, he fled.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/borough-park-shomrim-nab-bank-robber/2012/10/24/

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