The Azrieli Foundation has partnered with the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) to provide supplementary funding to Canadian Holocaust survivors who are most in need.
The Claims Conference funds home care services to Holocaust survivors, including light housekeeping, food shopping and help with bathing, dressing and cooking, as well as services relating to eyeglasses and dentures. Amy Wexler of the Claims Conference said there were 2,984 survivors in Canada who received services funded by the Claims Conference in 2015.
“The goal is to enable poor, frail survivors to stay in their own homes for as long as possible,” Wexler said. “The Shoah robbed these survivors of their youth. It is our responsibility to provide a measure of justice, as we say, for survivors at the end of their lives.”
While the Azrieli Foundation has long been involved with Holocaust remembrance and education, most notably through their survivor memoir program, this is the first time the organization has become involved in supplementary funding for Holocaust survivors.
Dena Libman, the Azrieli Foundation’s chief operating officer, said the foundation decided to provide funding to help survivors after she read a 2014 article in the Canadian Jewish News about survivors in Montreal not receiving enough aid to live comfortably.
After providing a one-time grant to service providers in Montreal, Libman said she realized that, if this was an issue in one city, it was probably an issue in other cities as well. So the foundation partnered with the Claims Conference this past December and has since worked with them to provide supplementary funding in order to aid survivors in need across Canada.
“The Claims Conference has provided an absolutely vital resource to Holocaust survivors around the world … but the need of low-income Holocaust survivors to live in health and in dignity is a need that is not fully met because it’s just such an enormous task,” Libman said. “So we made this investment to support low-income Holocaust survivors.”
The Azrieli Foundation provided $457,000 in funding, which was divided among four Jewish service agencies across Canada, including Jewish Family Services of Ottawa (JFS).
JFS Executive Director Mark Zarecki welcomed the additional funding from the Azrieli Foundation.
JFS provides case management, home support, help with receiving pensions, and assistance with miscellaneous services that they may not be receiving. Libman said the additional funding provided to JFS was specifically to support a Russian-speaking worker to ensure the needs of Russian-speaking survivors are met.
The connection between the Azrieli Foundation and JFS for this supplementary funding was made by the Jewish Federation of Ottawa, which has partnered with the foundation on Holocaust remembrance and education programs.
“Over the years, the Azrieli Foundation has supported remarkable programs and efforts around Holocaust education and remembrance. They have been leaders in the field, remarkably generous, and a wonderful partner to work with,” said Federation President and CEO Andrea Freedman. “Providing direct support for survivors represents a natural evolution in their care and concern for survivors.”
Libman said the Azrieli Foundation hopes to continue providing supplementary funding to better serve Holocaust survivors for many years to come.