The Claims Conference is increasing its allocations for social services targeted to elderly Jewish victims of Nazism. The social welfare programs, in 43 countries, will now receive some $168 million, according to Julius Berman, chairman of the organization.
More than $1.1 million will be given to agencies in New Jersey, an increase of 7 percent over 2008. Allocations are made to the Association of Jewish Family Service Agencies in Elizabeth, which distributes the funds to 12 Jewish Family Service agencies in the state.
The funds will be used to help the needy homebound as well as for medical assistance, food programs, transportation, emergency cash grants, and socialization programs.
“In these times of severe crisis for Jewish philanthropy, the increase in Claims Conference funds for social services is even more essential to the well-being of elderly Nazi victims,” said Berman. “We are committed to addressing their growing needs as they age and to easing their lives, as much as possible, in their last years.”
Leah Kaufman, executive director of JFS of North Jersey in Wayne, said that in 2008, with Claims Conference funding, the agency provided support to more 60 survivors in the community, through services such as home care, transportation, Kosher Meals on Wheels, case management, financial assistance, medical equipment, and adult medical day care.
“These services enable survivors to remain safely in the community and enhance the quality of their lives,” she said. “In addition, the Claims Conference provides us with a small grant to provide CafÃ© Europa, a monthly social program for survivors and their families. Since its inception, more than 200 survivors have participated in [this program].”
Kaufman said she anticipates that the increased funds will allow the agency to continue providing these services.
“We have about 38 [survivors] who receive help from us,” said Lisa Fedder, executive director of JFS of Bergen County in Teaneck, pointing out that she could not speak about the impact of the new allocation until she reviews the details of the grant. Still, she said, “I can only hope that the people we know about will get more help because they are truly a population who needs it.”
Esther East, executive director of JFS of Greater Clifton-Passaic, said, “We will benefit from the 7 percent increase if it’s passed on to our agency. We serve 11 survivors with home health aides, 20 in CafÃ© Europa …, and are always in need of emergency assistance for things such as dentures, hearing aids, hospital-based services, and case management.”
East noted that recently the agency’s case manager “was instrumental in getting an elderly survivor … medical and social support as he was moved from home to nursing home to hospital and now back home. The advocacy efforts on his behalf resulted in a shift in the hospital decision to stop feeding him because ‘it’s his choice.’ Our case manager urged them to arrange a psychiatric evaluation [and] he was put on medication. He began eating again and is now discharged to home.”
Most of the funds to be allocated for 2009 programs are from the Claims Conference Successor Organization, which recovers proceeds from unclaimed Jewish property in the former East Germany.
The Claims Conference also administers social service grants from German government funds negotiated by the Claims Conference; the Swiss Banks Settlement Looted Assets Class, on behalf of the U.S. District Court; the “Hungarian Gold Train” settlement on behalf of the U.S. District Court; Austrian government funds negotiated by the Claims Conference; and the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims. Successor Organization allocations were increased for 2009 in part to make up for the declining ICHEIC allocations, since that organization is no longer functioning.