We serve a population of more than 900 Holocaust survivors, fragile seniors in their 80s and 90s who deserve to live in safety and dignity, surrounded by the light and love of a caring community. Despite the unprecedented challenges of the past few years — including the pandemic and the war in Ukraine — we are steadfast in our commitment to these precious neighbors, friends, and treasured elders.
At first, we were surprised to discover that our population of Holocaust survivors had grown over the past few years. As the J remained open and operational over the course of the pandemic, our reach expanded as we became a vital lifeline and trusted resource with the linguistic- and cultural-competency to serve older Holocaust survivors.
The years, and the traumas they have experienced, have taken their toll; the health of our survivor population is fragile at best. Many are completely homebound, while others may venture out on a limited basis but, even so, their world has gotten much smaller in the past few years. Already struggling with isolation and loss of memory, hearing, and mobility, Survivors have been deeply impacted and re-traumatized by the COVID-19 pandemic, war in Ukraine (the country of birth for the far majority of them) and over the last month an attack on Israel and subsequent rising tide of global anti-Semitism reminiscent of their youths. These events have triggered painful memories magnified by the Survivors’ history.
The dedicated group of Marks JCH staff and volunteers who support our Holocaust survivors carry out more and more of their work in survivors’ homes. This includes everything from case management (ensuring that survivors have healthcare, housing, food, and other essentials of daily living) to in-person and virtual social events that keep loneliness and isolation at bay. Even if they live alone, they are not alone. Our survivors are part of a tightly-knit community that provides them with the warm glow of belonging. This and more our survivors richly deserve.