The Holocaust officially ended with World War II in 1945. The average age of remaining Holocaust survivors in Israel today is 83. There are nearly 180,000 in Israel, and approximately a third of them live in poverty. Many live alone and have no family.
These precious people survived the Holocaust as children living in ghettos, concentration camps, on the run or in hiding. They endured hunger, sickness, cold and, in many cases, abuse or even torture. But impoverished Holocaust survivors in Israel today often must choose what necessity they will forgo to make ends meet. That often means going without food, medications or heat for their homes in winter.
As Holocaust survivors age, their needs increase while their meager incomes remain the same. Many simply aren’t aware of benefits they could access – and they have no one to help them navigate the internet where information and forms reside. In too many cases, assistance from the government would not be enough to meet their most basic needs. Dental and vision care are among the most commonly unmet needs of Holocaust survivors living in Israel today.
Basic medical care is provided through government programs, but those do not include dental care. And these survivors have extensive dental needs caused by aging – and other problems that are a result of a childhood that included neglect and often mistreatment. Such dental conditions, left untreated, can cause chronic pain, infection, difficulty eating a basic diet and even communications problems.
Eyeglasses are very expensive in Israel and remain well beyond the reach of Holocaust survivors living below the poverty line. These aging people have to make do with blurry vision and worse because they cannot afford the glasses they need.
It’s hard to observe a generation that has endured so much struggling in Israel today without adequate care during their final years. That’s why Jewish Voice Ministries International (JVMI) has stepped in to help. JVMI works with ministry partners in Israel today to help Holocaust survivors with such basic needs as food, clothing and financial assistance. Social gatherings and luncheons address the often overlooked “heart needs” as well. Through the JVMI office in Israel, we are serving this special group of survivors in many ways.
JVMI conducts Vision Clinics throughout Israel providing Holocaust survivors a free examination and usually two pairs of eyeglasses. For more complex vision needs, custom prescriptions are sent to the U.S. to be created and shipped back to Israel. This has proven less costly than having the glasses made in Israel. Providing new eyeglasses restores sight, enabling these elderly people to read again and move through their day more safely.
Jewish Voice also works with several local dentists throughout Israel to cover extensive dental needs for Holocaust survivors. The dentists examine the patients, prescribe treatments and submit the costs to the Jewish Voice office in Israel for payment. When completed, the dental treatment relieves pain and discomfort and restores the ability to chew properly. And the patients are so grateful.
JVMI’s ministry to Holocaust survivors is not like the Medical Outreaches to Africa where hearts are more open and ready to receive Yeshua (Jesus). Many of these elderly people in Israel today witnessed or endured horrific acts of violence. Some of them saw their parents, siblings and other relatives killed before their very eyes. At such young ages, many smelled the stench from crematoriums and overheard the whispered explanations for it.
After what they’ve gone through, many Holocaust survivors in Israel today do not believe in God at all. As we offer them aid, we are able to share with them that God is real and He loves them very much. The kindness and compassion we show helps to open their hearts to believe in Him again.
“It is a process,” says a JVMI staff member in Israel. “We need to continue and not give up. It is working. God is softening hearts.”
It is a ministry that requires patience. At the same time, it is urgent. Thousands of Holocaust survivors die each year in Israel today. When asked about the greatest need for our ministry to them, JVMI staff in Israel say, “More funds. We need more funds to reach more Holocaust survivors and to help them in additional ways.”
Your gifts of support to Jewish Voice directly help elderly Holocaust survivors in Israel today. These dear people who have endured so much don’t have many years left. In a 2013 report, Rabbi Jonathan Bernis said it was projected that the last Holocaust survivors would be lost in 10 years – and that was now 5 years ago! Those who remain need to know God loves them and sent His Messiah, just as the Hebrew Scriptures foretold. Please join us in praying for them and for JVMI’s ministry to them.
Please pray for:
* God to continue softening the hearts of Holocaust survivors in Israel
* Survivors to believe and accept God’s love for them and be drawn to know Him
* Relationships to be established with these precious people to meet more than just their physical, tangible needs
* More funding from caring partners to enable us to expand the ministry to elderly Holocaust survivors in Israel today – before time runs out!