Commitment to the most vulnerable

Commitment to the most vulnerable

Holocaust survivors remember, in heartbreaking, horrifying detail, the enormity of what happened to them; they remember their martyred families and friends, the multitudes of the dead.

New Jersey is home to some 7,700 survivors, according to the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany. Rarely asking for public assistance, they have forged new lives, enriching the state through their determination to make meaningful contributions to their communities.

Now, struggling with the infirmities of age and still coping with those almost unimaginable memories, they need help (see page 4). Survivors are likely to have delayed flashback post-traumatic stress disorder, recalling the brutal events from their distant past and remembering their lost loved ones. Survivors can face costly institutionalization — and many in New Jersey fall below the poverty line.

The state’s 14 constituent members of the Association of Jewish Family Service Agencies provide a comprehensive safety net of services to meet the needs of survivors, including outreach, counseling, and in-home care. Through its biannual funding, the Claims Conference awarded the AJFSA approximately $2.1 million to assist survivors in 2013-14, almost $800,000 short of the amount requested.

With full funding, it was estimated that in 2013 survivors would receive: 26,000 hours of home care service, 7,400 meals, 15,000 hours of case worker/social needs services, and 450 assisted rides to meet medical and personal needs. The shortfall means that many survivors would be deprived of such assistance.

The Jewish community has a history and tradition of turning to its own to help the most vulnerable, but the economic downturn has sadly diminished those resources.

The state’s Jewish federations and AJFSA members supported a resolution requesting that the NJ Legislature help close the funding gap through an allotment of $400,000 in the 2014 budget; 50 percent was granted to support survivor assistance programs.

The Community Relations Committee of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ joins in expressing appreciation to the legislators for showing their commitment to helping fund these vital programs and urges further efforts to ensure that no survivor’s needs go unmet.

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