Jewish Home seeks survivors
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Jewish Home seeks survivors

The Jewish Home at Rockleigh, Russ Berrie Home for Jewish Living, has received a grant to help local Holocaust survivors. The only trouble the home has now is finding survivors to help.

The Jewish Home applied earlier this year for a $100,000 grant from the Jewish Philanthropic Fund of 1933 to help provide services for outpatient Holocaust survivors in Bergen County and Rockland County, N.Y. In March the Jewish Home was informed that it had been awarded a $5,000 preliminary grant from the fund, which would look at how the Jewish Home used the money and decide whether there was a need to award the rest of the grant.

The money will be used primarily to provide outpatient care to give respite to families caring for survivors and to provide such services as transportation to the Jewish Home’s day-care center and outpatient health services, said the Jewish Home’s executive director, Charles Berkowitz.

The Jewish Philanthropic Fund of 1933 is the charitable arm of the American Federation of Jews from Central Europe, according to the Philanthropic Fund’s executive director, Dennis Rohrbaugh. The AFJCE represents the German speaking Jewish-American ?migr? population that came here between 1933 and 1945, and looks out for their cultural and physical needs, he said. The philanthropy funds organizations that are representative of that group, which now includes many nursing homes, such as the Jewish Home at Rockleigh.

It is up to the Jewish Home to find the survivors who need help, which is not as easy as it might seem, said Berkowitz.

There are 3,600 known survivors in New Jersey, according to Dr. Paul Winkler, the executive director of the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education. The names of those survivors were given to the commission by various federations, synagogues, and by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. But they are certainly not all the survivors in the area. He estimates that there are easily 300 to 400 in Bergen County, but it could be above 500, he said. "But you can’t go by gospel on that," he said.

The trouble is that many survivors are either content to keep to themselves or just do not know about the services that are available to them, said Berkowitz.

"The reluctance to ask for help, an intense desire for personal privacy, a lack of trust of the government and social service agencies, and a deeply held concern about finances are all barriers that make it difficult to identify and reach those in need," said Susan Lilly, the Jewish Home’s director of social services, who will administer the fund.

To help find survivors, the Jewish Home is putting together an advisory board of local survivors and members of survivors’ families, said Berkowitz.

The goal is to show the Philanthropic Fund that the Jewish home can both find survivors and provide services for them, said Berkowitz.

In the meantime, the home has also received a matching grant of $5,000 from a local Jewish family that is also meant to help survivors. The only difference between the two $5,000 grants is that money from the 1933 fund can be given to any survivor, regardless of financial need, while the grant from the private family is intended only for survivors who can demonstrate need.

So far the home is working with three potential recipients, said Lilly.

"This is really a start-up situation," she said. "We’re networking through the community and trying to determine what needs there are."

For more information, call the Jewish Home at Rockleigh at (’01) 750-4’31.

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