Knesset Committee Addresses Challenges Faced by Holocaust Survivors Amid Ongoing War

By Aryeh Stern

The Special Committee on the Treatment of Holocaust Survivors, headed by MK Meirav Cohen (Yesh Atid), met Tuesday to address the recent challenges faced by the elderly, particularly Holocaust survivors, during the ongoing war.

Cohen emphasized the intensified difficulties faced by elderly individuals, especially Holocaust survivors, in recent weeks. She highlighted the various ways in which this challenging period has affected them – those evacuated from their homes, individuals grappling with wartime-related trauma, and those forced to alter their routines due to safety concerns. She stressed the adverse impact on mental health and the tangible repercussions, such as declining cognitive and physical health. The Committee aimed to identify strategies to prevent further deterioration.

Elyakim Kislev from the Federmann School of Public Policy and Government at Hebrew University presented findings from a survey conducted to assess the needs of senior citizens during wartime. The survey indicated a decline in the sense of belonging among participants, with many ceasing social club attendance and facing difficulties due to the absence of online platforms suitable for their age group. Additionally, a third of respondents expressed fear of leaving their homes, citing concerns about safety measures and the lack of available support.

Proposed solutions included reopening adult daycare centers with safe spaces, reinforcing family support networks, establishing local virtual support groups, and utilizing online platforms for support services.

Ronit Rosin, director of the Authority for the Rights of Holocaust Survivors, highlighted the organization’s efforts in operating adult daycare centers across 21 locations nationwide, alongside activities held in accessible places with the aid of 3,500 volunteers. She emphasized the focus on Holocaust survivors in sensitive areas and the ongoing evaluation of their needs in temporary accommodations.

Yehuda Davidov of the Israeli Association of Refugee Victims of the Disaster emphasized the need for smaller support groups and gatherings in private homes for Holocaust survivors, an initiative already undertaken in 15 communities.

Irit Fischer, director of Community Services at Joint Eshel, highlighted the organization’s volunteer-based home visits for Holocaust survivors to assess and communicate their needs to social services.

MK Cohen summarized the meeting, noting the necessity for smaller support groups in private settings, especially during the ongoing war. She called upon the Authority for the Rights of Holocaust Survivors to address this issue promptly, emphasizing the need for dedicated community supporters to address daily needs and emergency situations, ensuring efficient problem-solving and support for survivors.

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