More than 10,000 Holocaust survivors currently live in Canada; many live in poverty.
Since September 2015, the Azrieli Foundation has provided financial support for Holocaust survivors through the Emergency Assistance Program (EAP). The EAP support addresses one-time, short-term needs for emergency situations that arise in the lives of this vulnerable population. In Canada, funding from the EAP is provided to eligible survivors across the country through agencies in Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, and Vancouver.
“We realized since Holocaust survivors needed our support in Montreal, they needed our support elsewhere.”
– Dena Libman, Chief Operating Office, Azrieli Foundation
In spring 2014, an article appeared in the Canadian Jewish News that described a looming funding gap in the financial assistance program at the Cummings Centre for Seniors in Montreal. The Azrieli Foundation Board responded to that immediate need and decided to review the needs for emergency financial assistance for survivors across the country. Working with trusted agency partners in local communities and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (the Claims Conference) we made strategic grants to 4 agencies in 2015. In the years since, the program has expanded to fund 6 agencies that together provide support to all eligible survivors across Canada. From a modest first grant of $50,000 in 2014, our support for this cause has grown exponentially, with grants totaling almost $2 million in 2019.
It has been vitally important to the Azrieli Foundation to raise awareness of this hidden issue. Elderly people often don’t have anyone advocating for them. For aging Holocaust survivors this is compounded by a history of traumatic experiences that can lead to suffering in silence. We have been pleased that through major fundraising efforts, particularly in Montreal and Toronto, other donors have heard the call and joined us by contributing generously.
Through this program, we support community service agencies across Canada who are addressing the complex needs of elderly Holocaust survivors, helping them live in safety and with dignity.
Survivors suffer from almost 15 per cent more disabilities than the general Jewish population in their age group.*
What makes Holocaust survivors a uniquely vulnerable population? How do they differ from other elderly people? It is impossible to know the full extent to which survivors’ lives have been affected by their experiences. Many have been wounded in ways that cannot be healed. Their challenges and traumas may have included being orphaned, witnessing the killing and beating of family, witnessing mass murder, experiencing starvation, living in concentration camps, being kicked out of their homes, and re-building their lives in the aftermath. The list of inhumanities goes on, as do the ripple effects of the traumas throughout their lives.
“We are making a real difference in the lives of some survivors and other vulnerable groups in this city, and there are many more people in our own community who need financial assistance with their rent. I hope that more donors will step up and help.”
– Nancy Singer, Executive Director of Kehilla*
“The goal is to make sure that all Holocaust survivors, wherever they are in the world, are living their last years in dignity and with some comfort.”
– Gisi Levitt, Survivor Services Coordinator, Jewish Family Services Vancouver
The Azrieli Foundation Emergency Assistance Program provides funding to support such needs as rent to prevent eviction, relocation, medical & dental care not paid by government programs, medical products, and other medically-related assistance, and funds to prevent utility shut-off, medical equipment, food assistance, transportation, and case management, rental supplements. We do so by providing grants to the following agencies:
- Jewish Family Services Vancouver
- Jewish Family Services Edmonton
- Jewish Family & Child Toronto
- Kehilla Residential Program (Toronto)
- Jewish Family Services of Ottawa
- The Cummings Centre in Montreal
Unfortunately, the Azrieli Foundation cannot provide support to individuals. If you or a loved one has direct needs, we invite you to contact your local community agency by following the links above.
If you require immediate assistance and live in a Canadian city not listed above, please contact the Cummings Centre for Jewish Seniors.
“It is our duty as community members to ensure that their basic needs are met.”
– Naomi Azrieli, Chair and CEO of the Azrieli Foundation