“Survivors who are older adults have all the issues that other older adults face for the aging process. But they also have a black hole in their history, when they witnessed the Nazi persecution and extermination,” explains Elihu Kover, vice president of Nazi victim services at Selfhelp Community Services.
The needs of survivors have become more critical now as they are aging, face greater issues for their health and financial well-being, and continue to grapple with their World War II–era experiences.
During the past year, Selfhelp, the oldest and largest provider of services to victims of Nazi persecution in North America, has helped more Holocaust survivors then ever in its 73-year history. Selfhelp, a beneficiary agency of UJA-Federation of New York, served 5,600 Nazi victims last year.
It is just one of more than a dozen UJA-Federation beneficiary agencies that are helping address the basic needs of survivors in Long Island, Westchester, and New York City. UJA-Federation’s Community Initiative for Nazi Victim Services has raised funds to support safety-net services for Nazi victims.
“The Holocaust is a reminder and teacher to us of what can happen in a modern society,” says John S. Ruskay, executive vice president and CEO of UJA-Federation. “It is our sacred obligation to care for the survivors throughout our communities, in Israel, and in the former Soviet Union, and ensure that their remaining years are lived with dignity and loving support.”
From Home Care to Coffeehouses
Selfhelp’s services help survivors live in dignity and remain in their own homes, says Kover. The agency provides access to case management and social workers, as well as essential home care, financial aid, and vital social programs, including their popular coffeehouses. Seventy-five “coffeehouse” events and 10 holiday programs are held throughout the year in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Nassau County.