Recognizing International Holocaust Rememberance Day

The Holocaust (Hashoah, in Hebrew) was the systematic,  state-sponsored persecution and murder of approximately six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators between 1933 and 1945.* Jews were the primary victims, though gypsies, people with disabilities and others were also targeted for decimation for racial, ethnic or national reasons.

This Friday, January 27 is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. In 2005, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution designating January 27 — the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp — as an annual day of commemoration to honor the victims of the Nazi era.

In the U.S. we also honor the victims and survivors on Yom Hashoah, (established in 1951 by the Israeli Knesset) on the 27th day of Nisan of the Hebrew calendar (typically during the month of April). This date coincides with the anniversary of the Warsaw ghetto uprising and the liberation of the concentration camps in Western Europe.

Sixty-seven years ago this coming Friday, the gates of Auschwitz-Birkenau opened and those who survived are living memorials to those who were lost. As Elie Wiesel once said, remembering has become “the sacred duty of all people of goodwill.”

These days of Remembrance serve to remind us of not only man’s capacity for evil, but also his capacity for good, as evidenced in documented acts of courage. Some are more famous like the German industrialist Oskar Schindler at his factory in Poland and Miep Gies who hid Anne Frank in Holland. And some are less familiar: ordinary people who acted in extraordinary ways, like a couple who hid a jewish family in their attic or a government official who forged identity papers.

At JF&CS, we are proud of the fact that we’ve been working with Holocaust survivors since the atrocities of World War II ended, and we helped to resettle many survivors here in our community. But sixty-seven years later, those who survived are either gone, or in advanced age, with a critical need for care. Thanks to a recurring annual grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, Inc., JF&CS can provide this care to survivors.

Like most older adults, Holocaust survivors often want to remain safely and comfortably in their homes for as long as possible, and our confidential, comprehensive social services work toward that objective. These services include initial consultation and needs assessment, coordination of in-home support services and ongoing care management. Many survivors are eligible for direct assistance and receive help with the cost of caregivers or household maintenance. Our social workers also help survivors to access government benefits and Holocaust-related restitution payments.

To learn more about our Holocaust Survivor services and the people we’ve helped, click here or contact Sandy Budd, LCSW (sbudd@jfcspgh.org; 412-422-0400). To learn more about JF&CS’s other services for Older Adults, click here.

*Source: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

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