Rafael Espinal

Never abandon: Increase funding for the City Council’s Holocaust Survivors Initiative

New York City is home to nearly 45,000 holocaust survivors, almost half of whom live at or below the poverty line.

Holocaust Remembrance Day at the United Nations General Assembly in January, 2018.

Holocaust Remembrance Day at the United Nations General Assembly in January, 2018. a katz/Shutterstock

If you saw Mrs. W walking down the street in Queens, holding on to a companion’s hand, you wouldn’t know the horror she endured in her youth. You wouldn’t know that she lived in the Lodz Ghetto in Poland. You wouldn’t know that she was transported to the Auschwitz concentration camp and sent on a death march in January 1945, which she miraculously survived.

After the war, Mrs. W, whose full name was not used due to the sensitivity of her story, immigrated to the U.S. and lived a good life. Her story might have ended there, on a far happier note than it began. But as she aged, she began to exhibit symptoms of dementia. For a Holocaust survivor, that often means reliving painful childhood episodes as if they just happened. Leaving home to be transferred into institutionalized care can also trigger past traumas.

Thankfully, a family member connected Mrs. W with Selfhelp Community Services, which is the largest provider of comprehensive services to Holocaust survivors in North America, and is one of UJA-Federation of New York’s nonprofit partners. She was assigned a social worker who provided home care and helped her secure Medicaid benefits. With all this, Mrs. W was able to receive the care she needed to be able to stay safely and comfortably in her own home.

Mrs. W is just one of the nearly 45,000 survivors that we know live in New York City, with nearly 20,000 living at or below the poverty line. The stark reality of these numbers is heartbreaking. Holocaust survivors who worked and made a decent living are now finding themselves struggling to make ends meet in their older years. Living in New York City is tough for any senior citizen, but especially for survivors, who require more care as the trials of their younger years show dire effects with age.

Common conditions related to aging also take a harder toll on survivors. Many are dealing with complex bone and dental issues that are the result of severe, prolonged malnutrition. Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, depression, anxiety and other mental health issues are exacerbated because memories revert back to the Holocaust. For all these reasons, UJA-Federation of New York has made it a priority to raise funds to meet the needs of aging survivors. But philanthropy alone is simply not enough.

As New Yorkers, renowned for coming together when people need us most, we will not allow Holocaust survivors to suffer once more. Several years ago, New York City Councilman Rafael Espinal spearheaded a budget initiative now known as the Elie Wiesel Holocaust Survivors Initiative. The program earmarks funds to help survivors with an array of social and health care needs. It is appropriately named in honor of the late Nobel laureate, who survived two concentration camps and made it his lifework to tell his story in the service of the slogan “never again.”

It is equally important to “never abandon.” The Elie Wiesel Holocaust Survivors Initiative, together with federal, state and city dollars, fund New York City’s unparalleled network of human services agencies that help seniors in need. These nonprofits provide life-enhancing programs, including meal and grocery delivery services; personal care; legal services and access to government benefits; end-of-life care; and specialized caregiver supports.

Providing an elderly person with a warm meal, a ride to the doctor or the relief that comes with knowing you aren’t alone and forgotten might make the difference for them between despair and hope.

While philanthropy and government have stepped up, we must do more to meet the growing needs of aging survivors. Since Espinal spearheaded the program in 2015 with an allocation of $1.5 million, funding has increased year after year. This year, we urge the New York City Council to make its largest contribution to the Elie Wiesel Holocaust Survivors Initiative to date, $4 million.

Holocaust survivors have lived through the worst of humanity. Let us now show them the best.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.