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Posts Tagged ‘Holocaust Survivors’

Germany Pledges $800 Million for Holocaust Survivors Home Care

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

The German government has agreed to significantly expand its funding of home care for infirm Holocaust survivors and relax eligibility criteria for restitution programs to include Jews who spent time in so-called open ghettos.

The agreement, reached after negotiations in Israel with the Claims Conference, will result in approximately $800 million in new funding for home care for Holocaust survivors from 2014 to 2017. This is in addition to $182 million for 2014 that already has been committed.

In 2015, the amount will rise by 45 percent, to approximately $266 million, and then to $273 million in 2016 and $280 million in 2017. Because the sums are set in euro, the actual amounts may change depending on currency fluctuations.

The $84 million increase in funding between 2014 and 2015 will represent the largest year-over-year increase since the program began with approximately $36.6 million in 2004, though a bigger percentage increase took place in 2010, when funding doubled from $68 million $136 million.

“With this new agreement, the Claims Conference will be able to both increase the number of beneficiaries, thus eliminating waiting lists of survivors for home care, as well as increase the number of hours per person to a minimum level of dignity,” Claims Conference board chairman Julius Berman wrote in a letter to the board.

Some 56,000 survivors are now receiving home care through the Claims Conference.

The announcement of new funding comes amid controversy for the Claims Conference over revelations related to bungled investigations in 2001 that failed to detect a broad fraud at the Holocaust restitution organization. A document obtained last week by JTA showed that top Claims Conference officials were involved in the botched probes, including then-executive vice president Gideon Taylor and Berman, who in 2001 served as outside counsel to the Claims Conference.

Claims Conference employee Semen Domnitser, a director of two restitution funds who was at the center of the 2001 inquiries, was found guilty earlier this month in federal court of masterminding the scheme, which ran up more than $57 million in fraudulent claims from 1993 until 2009. The cost of the fraud was borne entirely by Germany.

In his letter to the Claims Conference’s board announcing the result of the latest negotiations, former U.S. ambassador Stuart Eizenstat, who leads negotiations with Germany for the Claims Conference, hailed the work of executive vice president Greg Schneider, who along with a senior Claims Conference staffer discovered and stopped the fraud scheme in 2009.

“The lives of tens of thousands of Holocaust victims will be made easier in their old age due to Greg’s skill and vision,” Eizenstat wrote in his message to the board.

“This unprecedented amount of funding means that we can give Nazi victims around the world the aid that they desperately need as they grow more frail,” he said. “That the agreement encompasses funding through 2017 underscores the German government’s ongoing commitment to Holocaust survivors. It is all the more impressive because it comes at a time of budget austerity in Germany.”

In last week’s negotiations, which took place in Israel, Germany also agreed to relax eligibility criteria for the Central and Eastern European Fund and Article 2 Fund, through which the German government gives pension payments of approximately $411 per month to needy Nazi victims who spent significant time in a concentration camp, in a Jewish ghetto in hiding or living under a false identity to avoid the Nazis.

Until now, only those who were interned in closed-off ghettos were eligible for pensions. As of Jan. 1, 2014, pensions will be available also to those forced to live in any of 300 specific open ghettos, such as those in Czernowitz, Romania, where Jews lived under curfew, lost their jobs and were subject to persecution.

The session that just concluded was the first time since restitution negotiations with Germany began in Luxembourg in 1951 that talks were held in Israel. For decades, the negotiations were held only in the German capital. In recent years, sessions also were held in New York and Washington.

Before they began negotiating last week, German representatives met with survivors in Tel Aviv, Bnei Brak and Jerusalem, visiting private homes where survivors are receiving home care, a senior day center and a soup kitchen. They also took a guided tour of the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and museum in Jerusalem. The negotiations were held in a classroom at Yad Vashem.

Chief of Staff, Son of Holocaust Survivor, Visits Auschwitz

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

IDF Chief of Benny Gantz, whose mother survived the Holocaust, wrote in the visitors’ book at Auschwitz Sunday that “the IDF will make sure that a horror [like the Holocaust] will not happen again.”

It has been said the true revenge for the Holocaust is to bring more Jews into the world in Israel and to return to the Nazi chambers with head held high to show the world who were the eventual and eternal victors over evil.

Gantz will fulfill that concept Monday as the first Israeli Chief of Staff to lead the “March of the Living, when he will lead 10,000 Jewish youth from around the world from the site of the Auschwitz death camp to that of nearby.

“On a clear, cold day, it is hard to understand or sense the gap between the silence all around and the horror that took place here, among the camp barracks, and inside of them, ” Gantz wrote. “The State of Israel is the security that an atrocity like this will not happen again. The IDF is the shield for the national home – the safe haven for the Jewish people….

“I am proud to stand at the head of the army and the delegation that, with great humility, seeks to bow its head in memory of the deceased and respect for the survivors, and to shoulder the responsibility of learning lessons from the past and ensuring future security.”

Israel began to mark Holocaust Memorial Day Sunday night at the Yad VaShem Holocaust Memorial.

Most of the nation will stand in silence when the one-minute siren wails Monday morning in Israel.

IDF Chief of Staff Visits Auschwitz (Video)

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

The IDF chief of staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, the son of Holocaust survivors, is leading a delegation to a Holocaust memorial at the site of the Nazi death camp Auschwitz.

Lt. Gen. Gantz left for Poland on Sunday, as Israel was preparing for the Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day commemorations which begin Sunday night.

Lt. Gen. Gantz was welcomed in a military ceremony upon his arrival in Poland. He will later meet with Poland’s defense minister and chief of staff.

He will place a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw.

Back in 2008, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said “there is no more reliable and loyal adherent of your stance and aspiration for a better and a fairer world order in the European Union than Poland.”

And in 2011, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that “the Jewish people are an indelible part of Polish history, and Poland is an indelible part of Jewish history … Our deep bilateral cooperation is based on common values and a shared history, as well as on the aspiration to a common future in which we want to achieve the same goals.”

In light of those warm endorsements, it’s probably a good idea for Israeli military chiefs to keep visiting Auschwitz regularly.



Yom HaShoah – Holocaust Memorial Day Starts Sunday Night

Saturday, April 6th, 2013

Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day, or Yom HaShoah, will be observed this year starting Sunday evening, April 7, the 27th of Nissan, and going through Monday night.

Israel’s day of commemoration for the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust, and for Jewish resistance, was signed into law by then Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and President Yitzhak Ben-Zvi.

Many Jews commemorate the Holocaust on Yom HaShoah, but some prefer to remember and mourn the victims of the Holocaust on the 9th of Av and the 10th of Tevet, the two days dedicated to mourning our many national catastrophes by the sages.

In Israel, Yom HaShoah will open at sundown in a state ceremony held at Yad Vashem’s Warsaw Ghetto Square, in Jerusalem. During the ceremony the national flag will be lowered to half mast, the president and the prime minister will speak, the Chief Rabbis will recite prayers, and Holocaust survivors will light six torches.

At 10 AM Monday, two-minute sirens will sound throughout Israel, and people will stand at attention. Ceremonies commemorating the Holocaust will be held at schools, military bases and other community centers.

All places of public entertainment will be closed by law. Israeli radio television will air only Holocaust documentaries and Holocaust-related talk shows, the cable comedy channel will be off, and all flags on public buildings will be flown at half mast.

Thousands of Israeli high-school students, as well as thousands of Jews and non-Jews from around the world, will participate in a memorial service in Auschwitz, in what has become known as “The March of the Living.” The event is organized in the hope of making the Holocaust experience “real” for young Jews born decades after the war.

Jews in the Diaspora will observe this day in their synagogue and community centers. Many Yom HaShoah programs will feature talks by a Holocaust survivors, recitation of psalms, poems and personal accounts, and viewing of Holocaust-related movies. Many Jewish day schools will hold Holocaust-related programs.

Florida State House Candidate Apologizes to the ADL

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

A son of Holocaust survivors, who is running for reelection in the Florida statehouse, has apologized to the Anti-Defamation League after labeling the group “despicable.”

The ADL had criticized Sheldon Lisbon after he sent out an email to supporters in June with the subject line, “A vote for Shelly Lisbon is a vote for the Jewish community,” according to the Miami Herald.

In a response letter to Lisbon, the ADL wrote that “appealing to voters along religious lines is divisive,” according to the newspaper. Lisbon then told the editorial board of the Miami Herald that the ADL’s comments were “despicable.”

Lisbon, who had sent the email to members of his synagogue, is challenging state Rep. Joe Gibbons, who is African American, in the state’s newly drawn District 100. Redistricting put the two in the same district.

The new district puts only 43 percent of the voters in Broward County, the rest being in Miami-Dade County. The state’s Democratic primary is Aug. 14.

In an email to the Miami Herald Thursday night Gibbons wrote, “I used a term that is far removed from what the ADL represents. What I did was totally inexcusable and as a son of Holocaust survivors who was born in a Displaced Persons camp in Germany, my statement was reprehensible.”

Readers Respond To Secular Jewish College Student

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

In my March 4 column, “What’s Happening in the World? – I’m Afraid,” I featured letters from two women who wrote of their fear at what is going on in the world. The second letter, from a Holocaust survivor, was particularly descriptive, as the woman decried the escalation of anti-Semitism, the savage terror attacks in every country, and the barbaric, murderous attacks on our people in Eretz Yisrael.

That second letter evoked much comment. In last week’s column a self-described secular Jewish student at UCLA wrote that he felt Jews are suffering from “paranoia” and tend to see anti-Semitism lurking behind every door. He also stated that Jews have remained oblivious to our new democratic worldthat is intolerant of bias and prejudice.

That letter prompted an avalanche of e-mails of which I will share just two – one from a gentile, the other from a son of Holocaust survivors.

Letter 1: A Non-Jew Speaks Up

Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis,

I wrote to you last week in response to the woman who feared for this world (I agreed). I want to send a quick follow-up message regarding the very thoughtful letter from the Jewish student at UCLA. I read and understand what he says, but in your answer, please emphasize that anti-Semitism is huge. It is still with us (along with all other prejudices) and has grown exponentially, to the point where it is now acceptable in even the most revered circles – not only in Hollywood and the entertainment and fashion industries but all areas of society throughout the world.

As I said in my earlier letter to you, I am a non-Jew but I hear and am sensitive to such comments.

They are not always as in-your-face ugly as those made by the designer Galliano (incidentally, does he have any clue as to the history of the fashion industry or to the identities of a vast number of its clientele?). Most forms of bias start subtly, but are consequential, leading up to pogroms and Holocausts.

The UCLA student may be forgiven for his youth – I too was once young – and I am still a basically tolerant and in many areas a liberal person, but not when it comes to dealing with individuals and systems whose sole intent is the annihilation of another group or groups of people. Look where that got us in the 1930s. Is history so hard to learn? It is happening again, and you and a few others called it.

I certainly don’t want to be a Chicken Little over every little perceived incident of insult or wrongdoing, but the blatant anti-Semitism evidenced in today’s media venues is real and will kill us all if left unchecked. A young, idealistic student has a lot to learn, and he will, but the majority of people – Jewish and non-Jewish, young and not so young – turn their heads away or dismiss these incidents as non-lethal expressions of freedom of speech.

I am all for freedom of speech and expression, even ugly speech and expression, but that does not mean I do not take these utterances seriously or that I dismiss them as “just words.” I pay attention and I take note. I also vote. I will never support any candidate who does not respond decisively against persons and organizations espousing any sort of anti-Semitism. Everybody has a stake in this. Our world is very small and it won’t take much to destroy it. That young Jewish UCLA student reminded me of a young African American girl I knew several years ago who told me there is no longer any racism – we are now a “post-racial” society.

Only the young can proclaim the death of prejudice. It is both a blessing and a curse to be so idealistic. You and other Holocaust survivors are the still-vibrant reminders of what can and will happen if we ignore the clarion call of evildoers. It’s a shame, because they tell us far in advance what they intend to do to us. What could be clearer?

Letter 2: A Child of Holocaust Survivors

Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis,

I was appalled by the letter from that secular Jewish UCLA student. I know there are many Jews who are disconnected from their people and their heritage, but in this letter I detected a sentiment that bordered on Jewish self-hate. It’s one thing to be non-observant but something else again to accuse your own brethren of paranoia at a time when blatant anti-Semitism saturates the world.

I am the child of survivors. Both my mother and father experienced barbaric torture and unremitting agony in the death camps of Hitler. They emerged from that nightmare as living skeletons – forever scarred by that unspeakable, satanic evil that was thrust upon them. If my parents, of blessed memory, were alive today and were to read the letter from that UCLA student, they would tremble in disbelief. They would cry out and ask, “Could it be that a Jewish student would deny the continued existence of anti-Semitism when survivors of the Holocaust are still alive? When concentration camps, gas chambers and crematoria are still standing in place testifying to the unremitting horror of what occurred there? Could it be?”

As the child of survivors, I believed that Jews, no matter their persuasion, share this collective pain of the Holocaust that is forever engraved upon every Jewish heart and soul.

To my great shock, I’ve slowly discovered this is not the case. Not only are there those among us who believe the Holocaust has been overplayed, that it’s time to forget it and move on; there are also those among us who believe Jews are guilty of bias against Arabs and are blind to the suffering of the Muslims – the new downtrodden, exploited people of our generation. Sadly, many Jews have become “self-haters” and have joined forces with those who scheme to annihilate us – and even more Jews have chosen to abandon ship and have disassociated themselves from their people and their heritage.

Not only is that UCLA student off the mark, not only does he have a self-hating attitude, but he has obviously joined with those who hate us and hide their anti-Semitism behind the cloak of anti-Zionism – and he refuses to understand that, in the end, it is all the same: anti-Zionism is the politically correct way of expressing anti-Semitism.

I hope you will publish my letter and I anxiously await your response to this misguided student.

Caring For Our Seniors And Holocaust Survivors (Part 4)

Wednesday, February 6th, 2008

A Practical Application

 


In the Jan. 4 and 11 issues I reprinted some triggers that may spark awful flashbacks for Holocaust Survivors. When confronted with these triggers, their reaction might cause them to behave in a way that non-Jewish or unknowledgeable caregivers and even relatives might not understand. That is why it is so important for anyone seeking to work with, or be supportive of, this population to understand what these triggers might be. In this way they can either avoid them or help the person cope if they can’t be avoided. I have received several letters that addressed this very topic.

 

 


Dear Ms. Novick,

 

I read your column every week even though I’m neither chronically ill nor a well spouse. (And I hope I never qualify as either one!)

 

I read with interest, your column re: Holocaust Survivor reactions. I live in New York City and am a professional musician. While my knowledge is probably much less than qualified therapists, doctors, social workers etc., I thought the following might interest you.

 

If I am working a job before an audience of the Jewish elderly (I play a lot of single engagements and parties, club dates etc.) and I even hear a hint of a European accent, or G-d forbid, see numbers on someone’s arm, I never play Viennese waltzes. I also try to stay away from German/Austrian composers, even those who died long before the Holocaust.


Also, just a thought… if I was a social director, I would think twice about taking a group of senior citizens to see a Wagnerian opera or even a show like Cabaret, or the Sound of Music, because of where and when the last two take place.


Rosanne Soifer

 


Dear Ann,

 

I had just finished reading your article on “triggers” when I received a call from a very upset friend who works in an office in her home. She had just seen two weekly clients, a mother and daughter. She told me that her cleaning lady had left her basement door open accidentally and her two dogs ran into her office, barking.

 

“I understand people are afraid of dogs. That’s why I keep mine downstairs.” She told me. “But I’ve never seen a reaction like this. The daughter was cowering on the couch, screaming. The mother was beyond fright and began kicking my dogs.”

 

She said that what disturbed her most, was that the women didn’t stop kicking her dogs and screaming (causing the dogs to bark louder and snarl) even when she told them to stop, and took hold of her dogs and told them that the dogs wouldn’t harm them. The daughter just kept screaming after she took the dogs away.

 

My friend just didn’t understand this overreaction.

 

Having just read about dogs being one of the “triggers” I thought the mother might have very well been a survivor. She probably saw people attacked, mutilated and killed by dogs that were trained to do just that. Any one experiencing that first-hand, or hearing about it from a parent, would easily react in the way she described.

 

When I told her this, her anger and confusion at her clients vanished. In fact she felt badly about the incident and vowed to be more careful with her dogs. Before these clients come again, she told me she would double-check that the dogs could not get out of the basement.


A.

 

 


Dear Ms. Novick,

 

Thank you for the articles and list of triggers. I am a nurse dealing with the older population. I have experienced an interesting contradiction that I’d like to share with your readers. If I wear my white coat when I am working with Holocaust survivors, I have noticed they get agitated. If I don’t wear my white coat with other seniors, they don’t think I’m a nurse. My solution is to keep the white coat on a hook in my office and use my judgment about when to wear it and when not to. I know this may sound like a silly nothing, but I have noticed it made a big difference with the senior population I treat.


N.

 

Whether we are professionals, family members, neighbors or a young adult doing chesed; whether we are Jewish or not, it is important to be aware of the history that has had – and continues to have – such an enormous impact on the older population in our midst. It is our responsibility to understand how what we may consider every day occurrences, can cause terrible anxiety in another. It is incumbent on us to not only be aware of these triggers, but to plan practical ways of avoiding them or working around them. We are, after all, “our brother’s keeper.”

 

You can reach me at annnovick@hotmail.com.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/caring-for-our-seniors-and-holocaust-survivors-part-4/2008/02/06/

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