With an estimated 150 Holocaust survivors in Silicon Valley living in poverty and unable to pay for necessities, the local Jewish federation and Jewish Family Services have come to the fore with a campaign dubbed “Operation Dignity.”
This marks the third year the Jewish organizations have raised funds for struggling survivors in the South Bay, who are in their 80s and 90s and are having trouble paying for food, shelter and, in many cases, expensive procedures for serious medical conditions.
“We don’t want these people to suffer,” said Susan Frazer, associate executive director of JFS of Silicon Valley. “They’ve suffered long enough.”
The funds will be going toward whatever the population is in need of, whether it be grocery money, rent assistance or medications. Frazer said she often sees many of the survivors needing help paying for their dental work.
JFS is working hand-in-hand with Jewish Silicon Valley, a new organization created by the merger of the Los Gatos–based Jewish Federation of Silicon Valley and the Addison-Penzak Jewish Community Center. As of Feb. 19, the campaign had raised $37,000.
The funds will be dispersed through Kavod, a national nonprofit that helps raise money for Holocaust survivors in need. Local dollars raised will be matched by Kavod’s National Funders Coalition led by Seed The Dream Foundation, said Amy Israel Pregulman, Kavod’s executive director and co-founder. Kavod is the Hebrew word for honor and respect.
Pregulman said that while poverty among seniors is not a new phenomenon, Holocaust survivors are particularly at risk. She said the population tends to have medical conditions stemming from the Holocaust that require more treatment (meaning more costs). In addition, she said, survivors who lost parents and/or adult extended family members in the Holocaust may not have inherited a strong financial safety net.
“We don’t have a whole lot of time left,” Pregulman said, noting the ever-advancing age of living Holocaust survivors. “We need to do what we can do.”
For more information or to donate to Operation Dignity, click here. For additional questions or to learn about the JFS emergency needs program, contact Allison Zur at (408) 357-7491 or [email protected].