Today is Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, when people around the world unite to commemorate the millions of lives lost in the Holocaust and honor the thousands of survivors who live to tell their stories.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles is deeply committed to ensuring that Holocaust survivors in Los Angeles and worldwide have access to the resources and care they need to live their lives with dignity. With an aging and increasingly frail global population, and specifically with one quarter of Israel’s survivors living in poverty, this is a challenging goal. However, the Federation and its array of local and global partner organizations are determined to make an impact in Los Angeles, Israel, and abroad.
“Because survivors are living longer, they are becoming frailer and more isolated, and their needs for food, housing, in-home care, transportation, and legal assistance are increasing,” said Lori Klein, Federation’s Senior Vice President of Caring for Jews in Need. “Together with our partners Bet Tzedek and Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles (JFS), we are able to ensure that vulnerable Holocaust survivors receive the necessary help and support they need to age in place and with dignity.”
The Federation partners with JFS and Bet Tzedek to provide case management for survivors on a variety of issues, and aligns itself with programs that ensure that survivors’ needs are met. Together with our partners, we also provide survivors with access to nutritious kosher meals and socialization at one of JFS’ many meal sites, home-delivered meals for those who are homebound, subsidized homecare services, special training for their caregivers, and access to reparations and vital legal and support services.
One homebound 87-year-old survivor recounts the effect the JFS and Federation support has had on his life: “This program makes life a bit easier and gives me a chance to rest, because I don’t have to go shopping as often. My legs are not good anymore, so cooking is not a possibility. The man who delivers my meals is very honest, and he treats me like family. I look forward to seeing him and his big smile! Talking to him on a daily basis makes me feel connected to the Senior Center!”
Programs like Café Europa provide social support to survivors throughout Los Angeles through fun activities like concerts, bingo, and lectures. The Federation established and continues to support this same program in Tel Aviv, since our commitment to Holocaust survivors extends beyond Los Angeles.
“Our Federation is committed to ensuring that the approximately 180,000 Holocaust survivors in Israel live independently and with dignity. To achieve this mission, we partner with the leading service providers in Israel to ensure access to services and benefits that enhance quality of life and reduce isolation,” said Aaron Goldberg, Senior Vice President, Israel and Director of the Israel Office of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.
In Israel, the Federation works together with Latet’s Aid for Life program to provide essential food, home restorations, emergency needs, social opportunities with younger volunteers, and holiday parties. Long-term partner Aviv L’Nitzolei HaShoah (Aviv for Holocaust Survivors) has served more than 50,000 survivors in Israel, helping them access critical pension payments, reparations, and government benefits through their local legal aid centers. The Federation also partners with the Survivor Mitzvah Project to provide infrastructure support for survivors’ basic needs across Eastern Europe, and works with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, which provides essential survivor support abroad.
While meeting the physical, psychological, legal, and social needs of survivors is paramount, the Federation also addresses another important need: honoring them by educating younger generations about the Holocaust.
The Federation partners with the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust (LAMOTH) to provide museum tours and other enrichment programs that create meaningful connections between survivors and students in elementary through high school. For example, LAMOTH’s L’Dough V’Dough program gives volunteers an opportunity to hear stories and bond with survivors through the challah baking process.
Through our partnership with the Builders of Jewish Education’s March of the Living, we provide scholarships and support for an annual trip to Poland and Israel, which takes hundreds of LA teenagers on a journey through Holocaust history alongside survivors themselves, who act as guides and storytellers for the group.
These are all examples of Federation’s extensive network of partners, collaborations, and programs committed to survivor welfare and enrichment as well as Holocaust education. Through these wide-reaching efforts, we ensure that our community never forgets its history and continues to honor the legacy of Holocaust survivors throughout the world. Together, we remember — and we will never forget.
*To learn more about our work, email DKogan@JewishLA.org.