A fund that helps agencies serving aging Holocaust survivors around the world is tripling its aid to Canada to $18.6 million US next year.
The aid, in U.S. dollars, is well above the $6.4 million US given this year, and will help more than a dozen agencies including Toronto’s Baycrest centre for geriatric care, Circle of Care (home care) and the city’s Jewish Family and Child Service.
“It’s 70 years after the war, and these people are so frail,” Hank Rosenbaum, Holocaust survivor and co-president of the Canadian Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants, said Monday.
“They need somebody to come in a couple of days a week to help with laundry, to help them cook . . . Not all of them have families; some survived alone and have no kids or grandkids to look after them” and they often live below the poverty line, he added.
Canada has the third largest survivor community in the world, after Israel and the United States, he said, which is part of the reason for the added funds this year given their growing needs as they age.
An estimated 14,000 to 16,000 survivors live in Canada.
Monies are provided via the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, known more simply as the “Claims Conference,” which negotiates with the German government, the main source of the funding.
Globally, the fund is providing $365 million US to 47 countries next year.
The money is separate from claims provided to individual Holocaust survivors by the Claims Conference.
Keith Landy, a Canadian board member for the Claims Conference, said home care is “the top priority for survivors, along with hunger relief and medical care, transportation and other vital needs.”
“In many countries, this is the sole source of income for survivors,” he said. “Whether it’s to put food on the table or to give them heat, they rely on this.”
Greg Schneider, executive vice-president of the Claims Conference, said that worldwide, victims are particularly in need of home care “as they become increasingly disabled, increasingly infirm.”
It is crucial they stay in their homes as long as possible, he also said. “Just like when the Nazis came — they were deported, they had to flee, they had to leave their home.
“It is very unsettling for a Holocaust survivor, it is particularly traumatic and an emotional trigger (to leave home) . . . We are trying to prevent it as much as possible.”
Canadian organizations to receive funding from the Claims Conference allocations:
• Circle of Care, Toronto
• Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care, Toronto
• Bikur Cholim Jewish Volunteer Services of Toronto
• Jewish Family & Child Service, Toronto
• B'nai B’rith Canada, Toronto
• Jewish Family Services of Edmonton
• Jewish Family Service Agency, Vancouver
• Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre, Vancouver
• Jewish Family Services of Ottawa
• Cummings Centre, Montreal
• Atlantic Jewish Council, Halifax
• Jewish Child and Family Service, Winnipeg
• Jewish Family Service Calgary
• Windsor Jewish Federation
• Jewish Social Services of Hamilton
• Jewish Family Services Vancouver Island, Victoria, BC