By Cherie Aviv, Founder Holocaust Survivor Support Fund (HSSF)
The news out of Ukraine is heartbreaking for all, but there is one group that has been deeply impacted: Holocaust survivors. Many of them once called Ukraine and Russia their homes. And though they left for a better life, it is still incredibly difficult to watch their former homeland be attacked. Many still have loved ones in Ukraine.
JF&CS provides supportive services, with Claims Conference funds from Germany for Holocaust survivors in Georgia, and 10 states in the Southeast region. The Holocaust Survivor Support Fund (HSSF), convened by Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, provides funds that meet the shortfall from Claims Conference funding, so survivors receive needed homecare, grocery food gift cards, home-delivered meals, prescription assistance, and more. Of the 229 Holocaust survivors who get support services, 93 are from Ukraine (62 live in Georgia and 31 live in other areas of the Southeast region). In addition, there are 40+ survivors from Russia.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has added to the already snowballing anxiety experienced by survivors over the last few years—increased significantly during the pandemic. They witnessed empty shelves at grocery stores, became socially isolated, saw people get sick, and knew people who died. Many experienced flashbacks to World War II.
Hence, stress level is high, and those who have family there are scared. Thankfully, JF&CS case managers are in regular contact with survivors and stepped up their outreach with survivors from Ukraine, Russia, and other parts of the Former Soviet Union to provide crucial support during this challenging time. They call survivors, listen to them, and attend to their emotional needs. And continue to provide them with much needed services to help with food insecurity, homecare, and more.