I was glad to see the article in last week’s Jewish Standard on the challenge that Jewish Family Service of North Jersey is facing in securing funding to help Homebound Holocaust Survivors. I want to reinforce the magnitude of this problem – it is a community-wide challenge that affects Jewish Family Service of Bergen County and North Hudson (JFS Bergen) as well. Last year, JFS Bergen was able to help more than 50 survivors with care management, financial assistance, home health care services, kosher meals on wheels, Shabbat meals, medical payments, transportation, home modifications, and counseling to maintain the dignity and quality of their lives. We have holiday gatherings and other socialization opportunities to help strengthen community connections. In 2008, we received $121,586 from the Conference of Jewish Material Claims against Germany and matched it with $35,280, raised from private donors and one foundation that is no longer in operation. This year, as is similar for JFS North Jersey, $33,075 in matching funds is required for JFS Bergen in order to receive full funding of $125,000 from the Claims Conference.
The following letter, which came from a daughter of one of our Holocaust survivors, demonstrates how essential this program is to these homebound survivors.
“Dear Friends at Jewish Family Service of Bergen County, I spent the morning settling some paperwork for Mom with the agency you recommended. The home health aide that they have sent us is extending Mom’s life. Thank you; having her on hand through the day is making all the difference in our worlds.
“When I came home, Mom shared with me the wonderful gift card from ShopRite. How very kind and generous of you to share this bounty with us. The strong arm JFS extends to us has not wavered once. You are a great source of comfort and support for our family. We have benefited for almost a decade with emotional and logistical support, available resources, attentive volunteers, kosher meals, gifts, all true bounty.
“Perhaps the most salient gift that you have provided is the grace with which you bestow your attention on my mother. She is never left to feel destitute or charitable or less than appreciated in every way. I want to thank JFS and all those whose generous support enables you to help so many people.”
The economic crisis has affected everyone in our community, but there are no people more affected than these survivors, who are the most vulnerable, with the fewest resources, and in desperate need of support and dignity for the remainder of their lives. Without the community support of our program, without help from the donors who are reading this letter, we too may have to curtail our support of these people. We ask you readers to be a part of the solution by supporting this valuable program for JFS North Jersey and JFS Bergen.