High-Level Leadership Council to Address Needs of Holocaust Survivors

Our Federation is one of six Federations across the country to receive a Critical Supports Grant from the Jewish Federations of North America’s Center for Advancing Holocaust Survivor Care. When combined with matching funds, this award will total $300,000 to help prevent and resolve emergencies among Holocaust survivors.

In compliance with the terms of the grant, we recently convened three meetings of a Leadership Council. This high-level think tank is tasked with identifying the needs of survivors in our community and the services currently offered to them. It is also charged with thinking creatively about how best to address their unmet needs. All services are to be delivered in accordance with the principles of “person-centered, trauma informed” care, focusing on the needs of each unique individual.

Each member of the Leadership Council has their own connection to the Holocaust survivor community. The Leadership Council is comprised of community leaders and professionals from Federation and our partner agencies with expertise in caring for seniors in general and particularly Holocaust survivors. In addition, in order to give voice to survivors and their caregivers, the Leadership Council includes a survivor and family caregivers of survivors.

As an essential first step, the Leadership Council identified locating survivors previously unknown to our community and informing them about services to which they are entitled. Along with this effort, they recognize the need to help survivors maximize the reparations to which they may be entitled. In addition, they acknowledge the importance of combating social isolation and loneliness among survivors and of alleviating pressures that may arise from serving as a caregiver, as well as finding creative ways to help survivors cover otherwise unreimbursed healthcare expenses.

The Leadership Council will continue to meet to plan the services that can help to address these issues and to oversee their implementation. The expectation is that the innovative work of the Leadership Council ultimately will be applicable to other cohorts and, therefore, that the work of the Leadership Council will continue beyond the term of the grant.

We are grateful to the following individuals for serving on the Leadership Council: Edna Alberts, Cecille Asekoff (Director, Joint Chaplaincy Committee of Greater MetroWest), Marsha Atkind (Executive Director/CEO, Healthcare Foundation of NJ), Tom Beck (Executive Director, Jewish Family Service of Central NJ), Norbert Bikales, Harold Colton-Max (Chief Executive Officer, Jewish Community Housing Corporation), Susan Grosser (Executive Director, Daughters of Israel), Rebecca Lubetkin, Bill Marks, Gilbert Mayor MD, Debbie Rosenwein (Manager Holocaust Services, Jewish Family Services of Central NJ), Susan Schechter (Director, Older Adult and Disability Services, Jewish Family Service of MetroWest), Victoria Shpilsky, Diane Squadron (Chief Executive Officer, Jewish Family Services MetroWest), Harriet Tesse, Jessica Mehlman (Federation Chief Planning Officer), Marian Marlowe (Federation CARES Coordinator), and Deborah Rosen (Federation Community Program Coordinator).

This grant is made possible by federal funds from a grant through The JFNA Center for Advancing Holocaust Survivor Care. Approximately 67% of the project ($200,000) comes from federal sources. Approximately 33% ($100,000) comes from non-Federal sources including a grant from Iris Teen Tzedakah of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater MetroWest NJ and in-kind contributions.