Never Forget. Never Again. — the refrain of our community’s commitment to those who suffered the unimaginable atrocities of the Holocaust. Last month we commemorated this dark period in our history during Yom HaShoah — the Day of Remembrance. We remembered those who were lost and the lessons of strength, resiliency, and perseverance.
For those still with us — more than 500 San Diego Holocaust Survivors — how are they doing today? What has this past year been like for them? With 1/3 of Survivors living in poverty, what effect did this pandemic have on their ability to receive food and care? For those who are self-sufficient, how did pandemic-related isolation impact their mental and physical state? I am proud to say that we can answer these questions because you support Federation’s Holocaust Survivor Coalition. What a tremendous bright spot that throughout the pandemic, we were not only able to stay focused on Survivors but in many cases, increase funding to make sure they felt supported.
Over the past year, Federation deployed over $300,000 to help Survivors get the food, medicine, and care they needed. We mobilized over 100 volunteers to make regular phone calls, picked up and delivered medicine and groceries, and instantly connected Survivors with greater needs to the Serving Older Survivors program at JFS. With the knowledge that many of Survivors were ill prepared to stay cool in their homes during the hot months, we also purchased and distributed box fans.
Today, as we transition out of the pandemic, we continue to support emergency needs facing many of our Survivors while also working towards long-term plans to address loneliness and isolation. This year we launched the Kibitz Call Line — a social program connecting volunteers with seniors based on similar interests to build meaningful relationships and connections.
Perhaps the brightest light on our community of Survivors was our Yom HaShoah commemoration. We are so proud to convene this commemoration with the support of many community partners. Thousands virtually gathered to mourn, listen to testimonies of local Survivors, and observe how teens absorbed Survivor messages about resilience. The recordings from these programs are located on a brand new virtual Holocaust Resource website that Federation will be operating on behalf of our San Diego community. The website contains information about supporting Survivors in need, a video library, speaker’s bureau, educational resources, Survivor autobiographies and much more. Please go to jewishinsandiego.org/survivors and share broadly as a point of pride for our community.