Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

5 Iyar 5766 - May 3, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Holocaust Information Center

By Betzalel Kahn

The Jerusalem Municipality, in cooperation with Misgav Lekashish and the chareidi extension of the Amcha organization, is operating an information center for Holocaust survivors to raise awareness of survivors' rights in the chareidi sector.

The center will allow Holocaust survivors and their children to receive free information and practical assistance regarding rehabilitation of those disabled by Nazi persecution, claims committees, welfare funds for Holocaust survivors, liaison offices for rent assistance recipients, consulting and guidance on property restoration, insurance policies, litigation and compensation payments for victims of forced labor.

The Center will also handle collecting information and historical documentation of the Holocaust period, working in conjunction with other organizations. As part of the project, which is backed by rabbonim, the Center is offering an opportunity for survivors to record their oral histories on video for posterity. The Center will also provide specially trained volunteers who can offer ways to cope with painful memories, encouraging victims to break the bonds of silence and fostering their need to hear and be heard.

Jerusalem Mayor Rabbi Uri Lupoliansky, who has been working in recent months toward the setup of the Center in the city, said the project is needed to dispel confusion and disinformation regarding the rights of survivors, who have not been exposed to the relevant information. "The setup of the Center is also vital for many survivors of limited means. On many occasions they make the decision to use their rights but are in the hands of various figures who charge high fees to help them fill out simple forms and for other services. The municipal center will allow survivors to receive full services and the assistance they need free of charge."

Studies conducted in recent years show the lack of awareness on the issue of survivors' rights is particularly acute within the chareidi sector, which is not exposed to various public notices that appear in the general media. The Center will also offer assistance to thousands of new immigrants from Eastern Europe who spent long periods in concentration camps and labor camps are also largely unaware of these rights. Recently they have been provided with new opportunities to take advantage of grants and compensation payments.

The directors of Misgav Lekashish, an aid organization for the elderly that is helping the municipality operate the project, sees the Center as a welcome initiative that will develop the services Misgav provides Jerusalem's elderly residents in the areas of nursing care, welfare and community services.

Amcha says unfortunately the chareidi community is insufficiently aware of the opportunities at their disposal in the area of survivor rights. "With the setup of the Center this sector, too, will be able to benefit from these services and other activities the organization makes available to them."

The man behind the Center for Holocaust Survivors is R' Michoel Urich, who was born in Warsaw and at the age of five was banished to the ghetto with his family. Later he was taken to Buchenwald, where he lost all of his family members and numerous acquaintances. Upon his arrival in Eretz Yisroel R' Urich decided to dedicate his life to helping Holocaust refugees. "Over the years," he says, "I have met many survivors who are unaware of their rights, the kind of people who barely eek out a living and every [shekel] could help. When I saw them I realized the War has not yet ended.

The [Germans] adopted the approach, "Both killers and heirs." I couldn't stand the thought people whose property was stolen from them by the Germans and their allies have trouble getting enough food to eat after all of the inferno they went through." R' Urich spent his time mastering the maze of bureaucracy and forms and sees this as a small way to thank Hashem for the miracle of his rescue from the hands of the Nazis.

The Center was initiated after he discovered 60 percent of survivors' aid requests do not justify paid legal services. The Center is turning to survivors and the relatives of childless survivors who have not yet filed claims to contact the chareidi section of Misgav Lekashish at 02-6252444, Ext. 6 to receive the help they need.


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