In May our colleague Christa Meyer-Prochnow took a project trip to Israel. She visited five projects for Holocaust survivors that we support and got an impression of the individual activities on site.
According to the most recent surveys by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), there are currently approximately 147,199 Holocaust survivors living in Israel. Link to the statistics
The EVZ Foundation supports various projects that are intended to help the survivors to age psychologically, physically and socially stable in dignity. Christa Meyer-Prochnow visited five of them in Israel:
The project CELEB: Services for Homebound Holocaust Survivors supports four counseling centers for Holocaust survivors located at local social service agencies. The project is part of the acitivities from The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, JDC-ESHEL. Christa Meyer-Prochnow met with Marc Codron (Senior director, Global Joint Ventures, JDC), Yuval Freedman (Holocaust Programs, JDC-Israel ESHEL) and the local project coordinator Orna Shidlovsky at the project site in Kfar Saba.
Later Christa Meyer-Prochnow visited Holocaust survivors in their homes, who are supported by the project: Elwira Horwitz was born in Romania in 1938 and came to Israel in 1964. She lives in a small apartment on the 3rd floor without an elevator and thus can hardly participate in life outside of the apartment. Through the CELEB program, she receives regular physical therapy. As well as the survivor Ducia Gertz. She was born in 1929 in a part of the former Soviet Union that now belongs to Romania. She came to Israel in 1972.
At a meeting with Yossi Heymann, CEO of JDC-Israel Eshel, whose father is a survivor of the former concentration camp Bergen-Belsen, and Luiza Levit (Strategic Partnerships, JDC-Israel ESHEL), the focus was on the proven long-standing cooperation with the Foundation EVZ.
At a meeting in the Headoffice from JDC Yossi Heymann, CEO of JDC-Israel Eshel, whose father is a survivor of the former concentration camp Bergen-Belsen, and Luiza Levit (Strategic Partnerships) reflected on the long- standing cooperation with the EVZ Foundation.
Next on the agenda was a visit of AMCHA in Jerusalem. AMCHA provides psychological care and social support for Holocaust survivors. The foundation sponsors the projekt Generation Dialogue between 500 elderly Holocaust survivors and 1000 young volunteers, social activities in five locations in Tel Aviv, Haifa, Rehovot, Ashkelon and Beer Sheva.
AMCHA Israels clinical director Martin Auerbach and project coordinator Vickie Weizman gave an overview of their work. They reported, for example, an increasing need for cab rides and thus rising costs. Only a few survivors could still get to the activities like the Social Club or to individual counseling sessions by public transportation.
During her visit to the Social Club in Tel Aviv, Christa Meyer-Prochnow witnessed the lively atmosphere in the rooms and the dedicated work of the team. She spoke with survivors as well as with the director Dr. Miriam Drux and the art therapist Yasmin Lavi.
The Foundation for the Welfare of Holocaust Victims (R.A.) is based in Tel Aviv. It reaches about 60,000 survivors with its activities. Since 20 years, the EVZ Foundation supports the the volunteer project Flower for a Survivor. Coping with the Loneliness of Aging Holocaust Survivors. Home visits, joint activities and assistance through 3600 volunteers are part of it.
Current challenges were discussed together with Ety Farhi (CEO), Maayan Karni Yehuda (Director of Resource Development), Anat Esher (Resource Development),the Director of Volunteer Programs Yael Zait, and two local volunteer program coordinators. They reported for example the need from more and more suvivors of supplemental food packages or dental care coverage.
In Petach Thikva, Christa Meyer-Prochnow visited survivor Sarah Lea Chesner at home. She was born in Romania in 1944 and has lived in Israel since 1965. As she lives in a house without an elevator, she can rarely leave her apartment. She receives regular visits from two volunteers of the project and is regularly picked up from her apartment for group activities. On Holocaust Remembrance Day Yom Ha Shoah 2023, she was able to participate in an official ceremony.
In Beersheva, Christa Meyer-Prochnow met with a number of Russian-speaking survivors in a senior citizens' residence. Here and in other places in the Negev, the organization Atid Bamidbar is organizing regular meetings of Russian-speaking survivors with school classes, young volunteers and other groups since 2018. In a lively atmosphere, survivors, teachers and young volunteers shared their common experiences and spoke with great appreciation about the dedication of project leader Irena Kudman.
President and CEO Debbie Goldman-Golan explained the background of the work in the project supported by the EVZ Foundation: Intergenerational encounters between Russian-speaking Holocaust survivors and young people in the Negev region in Israel; training of teachers, accompanying public relations work with publication
At the organization Aviv for Holocaust Survivors (Aviv LeNitzolei HaShoah) near Nehalim, Christa Meyer-Prochnow visited the fifth project oft he trip. Here, the EVZ Foundation has been funding legal counseling for survivors and their relatives since 2016 in the project Counseling Centers and Hotline for Compensation Payments and Social Benefits for Around 1,000 Holocaust Survivors. In addition to the free and individual counseling by lawyers and volunteers, it is also a goal to identify and support new beneficiaries.
In a conversation with Orly Sivan (Executive Director) and Gil Elroy (Director Resource Development), the counseling successes were highlighted, which would not have been possible without the support of the EVZ Foundation.
A video on Aviv's activities and successes can be found here.