May 29, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

NYC Holocaust Survivors Allocated Financial Assistance

On June 7, New York City elected officials, Holocaust survivors and a broad coalition of nonprofit and social service organizations hosted a virtual rally to encourage support of the Elie Wiesel Holocaust Survivors Initiative to be included in the Fiscal Year 2022 budget. This initiative would provide $4 million in support services to Holocaust survivors living in New York City. The event was hosted by UJA-Federation of New York and Councilmember Mark Treyger.

There is currently no funding in the NY FY22 budget for Holocaust survivors. The Wiesel Initiative would provide the same funding allocated to survivors in the FY21 budget, $4 million, which helped city residents who are Holocaust survivors access resources to get through the pandemic; and also helped them receive vaccinations. According to UJA, almost 50% of New York’s 35,000 known survivors live in poverty. This funding helps them combat food insecurity, pay rent and transition back to daily life.

Henry Musat, a Holocaust survivor, arrived in the United States in 1949 and worked in the fashion industry. He said that after losing his wife 10 years ago he has experienced some financial hardships. Through funding from the Elie Wiesel Holocaust Survivors Initiative, he never went hungry, thanks to Meals on Wheels, and he has been able to retain a rent-stabilized apartment at the same rate for the past 10 years. He said that the last 15 months have been isolating, since his social worker has not been able to visit in person.

Councilmember Eric Dinowitz of Riverdale, the new chair of the council’s Jewish Caucus, declared: “Remember the atrocities and horrors of the Holocaust. One of the ways we do that is by funding these initiatives, and providing these services.”

Councilmember Treyger, a known advocate for Holocaust survivors in New York, noted: “The rising level of antisemitism and antisemitic crimes happening in New York and around the globe has a disproportionate impact on Holocaust survivors and their families. It is a triggering experience. It’s triggering for me as a grandson who used to hear stories from my grandparents.

“It’s important that we in government let them know that we are with them, that we have their backs and we do not forget them. We are with them every step of the way—to tackle restraints, to tackle social isolation, to provide housing services—and to let them know they’re not alone.

“It’s not just enough to say, ‘Let’s get back to where things were before the pandemic,’” Treyger added. “We need to go bigger and bolder in this budget.”

Councilmember Adrienne Adams said: “These programs are so important for any aging New Yorkers, but especially for thousands of Holocaust survivors who are living in poverty and need support programs more than ever before. There is no question in my mind that this initiative is crucial for our survivors, but hearing from Henry and our amazing providers convinced us that we need to support and invest in this program even more.

“With the COVID-19 pandemic and the growing need of our survivors, we must do more to support them,” she continued. “You can count on my support as always, because we cannot let our survivors down. We provide them with services that meet their needs.”

New York State Senator Anna Kaplan added: “I can tell you that my colleagues in New York State Senate are also very much committed to the independence and dignity of Holocaust survivors. That’s why we were able to put in a million and a half in our state budget for Holocaust survivors throughout our state, and I’m hoping that we can always build on that.”

Council Member Margaret Chin said: “This initiative is so critical to support Holocaust survivors. Most of the seniors that this initiative serves are much older, from 76 to 105, and they really need the critical services that are being provided. This past year has been detrimental to a lot of older adults. I was thinking that coming out of this pandemic, even more services are needed, and we have to make sure that our seniors—especially Holocaust survivors—will be able to age in their home, in a community that they love, and age with dignity.”

The final speaker was Brooklyn Borough President candidate, Councilmember Robert Cornegy. He concluded: “It’s easy to speak out against genocide and easy to speak out against the Holocaust. Words are easy, but action speaks louder.”

By Judy Berger

 

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