Report: A Quarter of Holocaust Survivors in Israel Living in Poverty

YERUSHALAYIM (Hamodia Staff) -
Israeli Holocaust survivors demonstrating outside the Finance Ministry in Yerushalayim, demanding better living conditions, December 2, 2012.  (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Israeli Holocaust survivors demonstrating outside the Finance Ministry in Yerushalayim, demanding better living conditions, December 2, 2012. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Holocaust survivors in Israel are surviving, but barely.

Of the 193,000 Holocaust survivors living in Israel today some 50,000 live in poverty, according to a report released Wednesday by the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel.

According to the findings, 45% of the survivors feel “alone” and one out of every five were forced to choose between food and medications during the past two years due to financial problems.

The survey further found that 60% of Holocaust survivors are worried about their financial situation. In addition, 55% of survivors said they are unhappy with the way the government treats them and 61% said they did not feel any difference or changes in the past year with the way the government assists and treats them.

In addition, 43% of survivors expressed fear that the Holocaust will happen again.

In comparison, the public survey findings indicated that a majority of the general population, 84%, believe the treatment of Holocaust survivors was “not good.”

Of the respondents, 52% believe that a majority of Holocaust survivors live in poverty and only 10% said they believe the situation of Holocaust survivors was “good or adequate.” In addition, 56% of the general public said they did not believe there was any change made by the government this past year with regards to treating and assisting Holocaust survivors.

According to the report, the average age of the Holocaust survivor is 85 and two thirds are women. Each year an estimated 13,000 survivors pass away.

In the past year, around 70,000 Holocaust survivors requested assistance from the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel.

Earlier this month, the government announced a NIS 1 billion national plan to assist Holocaust survivors.

Chaya Kujikaro, a 76-year-old Holocaust survivor from Romania, could not hold back tears as she described her living situation, at the press conference announcing the report. Kujikaro and her husband made aliyah after 1953, and as such she is not entitled to the same rights as Holocaust survivors by the state of Israel.

“I want to ask the government, why, if you made aliyah after 1953, are you not considered a Holocaust survivor?” she asked.

Kujikaro subsists on a National Insurance Institute pension with her 90-year-old husband who suffers from heart problems and is confined to a wheelchair. They are forced to spend thousands of shekels every month on medications and medical treatments.

“It is very difficult for us, and we don’t see any exit from this [situation]. Sometimes we just want to end our lives, but this is not how we want to [die],” she said.