Sarah Heiman

Our Surreal Reality: Our Greatest Heroes Living in Squalor?

Ynet recently reported that an astonishing one-third of Holocaust survivors in Israel are living below the poverty line. These survivors are the heroes of our nation, and some of the brave pioneers that built our Jewish homeland. They are our reminder that having our own nation and army is so important to our safety and continuity as a Jewish people. To ensure that the statement “never again” is a reality.

These survivors deserve the utmost respect and to live with dignity. And yet, 70 years later, many of these Jewish homeland’s heroes are living in horrible conditions, perhaps alone and isolated, with a home that is falling apart around them.

Tenufa Bakehila recently highlighted stories of Holocaust survivors on their Facebook page in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day. This 501(c)(3) Israeli organization provides urgent relief to poverty-stricken sections of Israeli society by repairing severely damaged homes and having a social worker assess ways to help the family. They provide much needed support and tools, and restore survivors’ dignity. Assistance includes helping with rights realization, financial planning, joining day activity centers, a listening ear, and much more.



Top picture: Tenufa Bakehila social worker Abby meeting with a Holocaust survivor on Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Bottom picture: Standing for the Holocaust Remembrance Day siren with the Tenufa Bakehila repairmen

One such story is that of an elderly Holocaust survivor who is enduring chemo treatments and living with his mentally challenged adult daughter. Their home was in major disrepair with broken kitchen cabinets, severe dampness and mold problems, a barely functioning bathroom, cracked walls, and missing a door to the outside porch. Tenufa Bakehila started repairing the apartment, fixing the walls, and treating against mold and fungi. With the help of a donor, they replaced part of the kitchen cabinets. When this Holocaust survivor began his cancer treatment 2 months ago, they put their repairs on hold, waiting for his recovery in order to finish replacing the rest of the kitchen cabinets, and making the damp and moldy room into a useable room. They will also build a separating wall for his daughter’s living space, to allow better privacy for both of them.

Another story is that of an elderly widowed Holocaust survivor who is being taken care of by her granddaughter because her daughter died of cancer. Her electrical outlets and switches were very dangerous so the Tenufa Bakehila team switched them out for new ones and then painted her home.

IMG_1753Pictured above: Tenufa Bakehila repairmen help fix a home

To read other stories and to learn more about the organization, visit the Tenufa Bakehila Facebook page. They also share daily updates of others families they assist. Our brave survivors don’t deserve to live in dilapidated housing conditions. To donate to this cause, click here.

About the Author
Sarah Heiman made aliyah from Buffalo, NY in 2011 and works at Tenufa Bakehila, an Israeli non-profit organization that helps needy families with urgent home repairs. She is a single mom to a toddler boy and lives in Jerusalem. Sarah has a BA and MA (Rutgers-NJ) in Social Policy and Sociology and has spent years in non-profit management and content writing. She enjoys running, yoga, hiking, nature, travel, and spending time with her family and friends.
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