On December 3, more than 25 Jewish leaders pledged their commitment to an ambitious effort spearheaded by the Jewish Federation of San Diego. Nearly 500 Holocaust survivors live in San Diego and a community-wide strategy is critical to address aging survivors’ dignity and quality of living.
At the San Diego Holocaust Survivor Coalition inaugural event, CEO Michael Jesser proclaimed, “It is not the responsibility of one organization or one person to serve survivors. We can do far more together than any of us can do alone. Now is the time to renew and fulfill our promise to never forget, never again.”
The coalition’s role is to harness the power of the community to identify, connect and prioritize serving survivors, many of whom are impoverished, hungry, and lonely. Although years have passed, trauma from atrocities lingers and can manifest in different ways. While about 230 survivors are connected to Jewish organizations, more than double that number have not yet been reached. As they get older survivor needs multiply. Many who have lived independently in the past are struggling in their advanced age and attempt to seek help or don’t know where to turn. The goal is to seek out and anticipate survivor needs so they don’t suffer in silence and isolation.
There is no system for identifying all survivors residing in San Diego so a collaborative approach is critical at this time. “Caring for Holocaust survivors and ensuring that they live with dignity is the responsibility of the collective Jewish community. Whatever your mission, your organization can make a substantial difference,” noted Chief Planning and Strategy Officer Darren Schwartz. Through the work of the coalition, partners will identify a path forward that harnesses the power and expertise of the San Diego Jewish Community.
The Coalition will accomplish its mission through three major components: Caring for the immediate and critical needs of survivors; building awareness and mobilizing the community; and honoring and engaging survivors and their families.