As the pandemic approaches its year mark, Holocaust survivors across the United States continue to face new and renewed daily struggles.
COVID-19 has only further exacerbated and enhanced the challenges that this vulnerable population faces, according to KAVOD SHEF (Survivors of the Holocaust Emergency Fund).
Health and safety protocols have heightened social isolation for survivors. Holocaust survivors living in poverty have been forced to choose between heat or food, medicine or rent. Many have lived in dire conditions because they did not have the funds needed to repair their homes, according to the statement. Over the past year, survivors have been forced to reckon with new, difficult questions: How will I get food this week if I cannot go to the grocery store? Will I be able to afford my medicine with decreased access and rising prices?
The KAVOD Survivors of the Holocaust Emergency Fund (SHEF) initiative, launched by Seed the Dream Foundation, in partnership with KAVOD-Ensuring Dignity for Survivors in March 2019, supports thousands of Holocaust survivors across the United States. With the emergence and rapid spread of COVID-19, this special initiative has been identified as a key program reaching any survivor in need regardless of where he or she may live.
Moving into 2021, KAVOD SHEF will assist Middlesex County’s survivor’s emergency needs. The KAVOD SHEF initiative partners with the national nonprofit aid organization, KAVOD, the Jewish Federation in the Heart of NJ, Jewish Family Services (JFS) of Middlesex County, national philanthropic partners, and local donors to directly respond to survivor needs in nine emergency areas: food, medical, dental, vision, urgent home needs (utilities, rent, repairs), emergency home care, transportation, essential deliveries, and PPE.
In Middlesex County, there are nearly 200 Holocaust survivors living in the community, according to the statement. JFS Middlesex, in partnership with the Jewish Federation in the Heart of NJ, joined KAVOD SHEF in 2019.
As the critical needs of aging Holocaust survivors continue to grow exponentially with each passing year, the KAVOD SHEF partnership ensures that survivors are able to purchase much-needed groceries and access critical dental care, medical procedures and equipment, home care and more, according to the statement.
What began in 2019 as emergency services for Holocaust survivors across 18 cities, quickly expanded in 2020 to community partnerships in more than 28 U.S. cities, according to the statement. 2021 is starting with 30 cities, and the coalition continues to grow.
Marcy Gringlas, president and co-founder of Seed the Dream Foundation, said “the survivors’ unmet needs far outweigh the resources available to cover these emergency services; it is for this reason that we launched this initiative and are prepared to continue matching every dollar raised on the national level. We can and must do more to alleviate these impossible choices and help our Survivors live in dignity during their last years. When we come together and work together, our collective reach extends beyond what we thought possible.”
“Seed the Dream Foundation is committed to working with our partners across the country to create a collective communal response and bring most-needed attention to address this silent crisis,” Talia Kaplan, executive director of Seed the Dream Foundation, said in the statement.
“Every day, we lose more than 40 Holocaust survivors, and yet every day we continue to see hundreds of new requests for care. There is no time to waste,” Gringlas said in the statement.
Roni Salkin, executive director of JFS of Middlesex County, asks, “How could we put our survivors on a waiting list for emergency services? The time is now to help them, not 10 years from now, but today while we can still help. It is unconscionable to think of a Holocaust survivor who does not have enough food to eat or must decide whether to pay an electric bill, a plumber or a doctor’s office. With the partnership of our Jewish Federation in the Heart of NJ and KAVOD SHEF, our Holocaust survivors are able to see with new eyeglasses, eat again after extensive dental work, use new hearing aids to enjoy the laughter of family, and bring in nursing aides to help them stay in their homes, aging with comfort and dignity.”
“Jewish Federation identifies and mobilizes resources to address the most pressing needs in the Jewish community,” Susan Antman, executive director of Jewish Federation in the Heart of NJ, said in the statement. “Helping to bring all the pieces of the JFS – KAVOD SHEF – Federation partnership together for the benefit of our treasured Holocaust survivors is more than a manifestation of our Federation mission, but we hope a loving and respectful way to remind Holocaust survivors that they are not forgotten and never alone.”
The KAVOD SHEF hotline is 720-295-8484.
KAVOD Ensuring Dignity for Holocaust Survivors is an organization that is making a massive impact for Holocaust survivors living near or in poverty in the U.S. KAVOD was created in the fall of 2015 when the founders, John and Amy Israel Pregulman, learned that one-third of the up to 80,000 survivors living in the U.S. struggle with day-to-day basic needs when there is an emergency situation.
“We still get looks of dismay every time we share these numbers. We get asked time and time again how is this possible and why is this happening?” John Pregulman, co-founder of KAVOD, said in the statement.
“The issue is not going away and is not dwindling. Our survivors are getting older and are having bigger financial stresses. We only have a few years left with these courageous individuals and we feel it is our responsibility to take care of them and offer them peace in their final years. They have been through enough and as a human community, we are responsible,” Amy Israel Pregulman, executive director of KAVOD, said in the statement.
For more information, visit www.kavodensuringdignity.com/