As the final witnesses of the most horrific attempt at genocide in human history, Holocaust Survivors are a dwindling resource that needs to be treasured. There are fewer than 200,000 Holocaust Survivors in Israel today, and a shocking 25% of them live below the poverty line. With an average age of 87, almost 40 of them pass away each day, and in another few years, no voices will exist to bear witness to what the Jews suffered under the Nazi regime.
For this, and many other reasons, Meir Panim has put extra energy and resources into programs for Survivors. In particular, our Holocaust Survivor Day Center, which serves as a bright spot, and place of joy, for the remaining Holocaust Survivors of Dimona.
This past year and winter were especially hard as some 900 Holocaust Survivors died from Covid in Israel. Since social distancing was especially important to protect this vulnerable population, a year ago, Meir Panim had to make the difficult, but necessary, decision to suspend all in-person programming at the center to preserve the health and safety of our participants.
While staff continued to help the community remotely, with phone calls and Meals-on-Wheels deliveries, everyone awaited the day where they could meet again.
Now that the Israeli Health Ministry has lifted the pandemic restrictions and our participants have all been fully vaccinated, the center has finally reopened! While safety measures are still in place, staff were excited to welcome everyone back by hosting a festive meal.
The smiles were evident even under the masks. An exercise class was given by one of the volunteers, raising everyone’s spirits even more!
But the most important element was the togetherness, to let these special people know that neither they nor their powerful history will ever be forgotten.