The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews to Cover Electric Bills for Holocaust Survivors
Foundation for the Welfare of Holocaust Victims Survey: 22% of Survivors in Israel Can’t Afford Monthly Electric Bills
TORONTO, Ont., April 17, 2023 — In advance of Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship) announced the allocation of $100,000 to the Foundation for the Welfare of Holocaust Victims to subsidize the electricity bills for 300 Israeli Holocaust survivors.
As of early 2023, there are reported to be fewer than 150,000 remaining survivors living in Israel with an estimated one third living below the poverty line. These survivors are heavily dependent on financial support from Israel’s National Insurance Institute (Bituach Leumi) and an additional annual grant from the national government of 6,500 shekels per year. According to a recent study assessing the needs of the survivor community performed by the Foundation for the Welfare of Holocaust Victims , 22% of those that require financial support were forced to give up necessities due to lack of funds, including the use of electrical or medical equipment, medical tests, clothing and other basic needs.
“Life is not simple for me, especially in my older age when I can’t work and make money, but I have to make do somehow,” said Vera Kopilov, 80 of Be’er Sheva. Kopilov who survived Nazi occupation, lives alone and her only child passed away a few years ago. “I have to think twice whether I can turn on the heater or air conditioner or other electric items. I’m very thankful for the support I and other survivors are able to receive.”
“Many survivors struggle to pay their electricity bills because their pensions do not cover all of their expenses, including medical treatments and food,” said Etti Perachi, CEO of Foundation for the Welfare of Holocaust Victims. “As a result, survivors have had to make the decision to refrain from any type of additional electricity consumption. During the recent cold spells this meant choosing not to turn on the heat which can jeopardize their health, with a similar decision needing to be made when it comes to cooling their homes in the summer.”
Considering these circumstances, IFCJ in cooperation with the Foundation for the Welfare of Holocaust Victims which supports 81,000 survivors has set aside funds specifically intended to cover the electricity expenses for survivors. Advance payments are made directly to the electricity company with the survivors knowing that the costs will be covered.
“Supporting and caring for Holocaust survivors is at the very heart of the IFCJ mission, which provides food, medicine and other support for 9,500 Holocaust survivors year-round” program, as well as tens of thousands of additional survivors through ongoing support of the welfare system,” said Yael Eckstein, President of the IFCJ. ”This year, we have put a special emphasis on paying the electricity bills for Holocaust survivors, so that they will always have access to heat in the winter, cool air in the summer and of course, light all year round. Our commitment is to ensure that for every day that we are blessed to have these modern-day heroes of survival in our midst we say that we aren’t simply here to remember but to ensure that we are acting on their behalf.”
As of March 2023, 36,000 families in 240 municipalities across Israel were receiving food cards that can be used for specific foods and supplies, as well as monthly deliveries of fresh fruits, vegetables, nutritional staples, and baby formula. In addition, recipients are encouraged to attend a series of sponsored workshops focused on smart fiscal planning and home economics.
"This initiative is the realization of a dream which could only be realized by those who shared our vision of truly helping others and didn't let anything stand in their way to make it possible," said Rabbi Sholom Duchman, Director of Colel Chabad. "In particular, we want to thank The Fellowship led by Yael Eckstein and founded by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein of blessed memory, who have worked tirelessly to raise hundreds of millions of shekel on behalf of Israel's needy out of sincere compassion and a desire to better the lives of everyone who needs support."
"We see it as a source of immeasurable pride to partner with Colel Chabad on a program that is impacting the welfare of the people of Israel in such a positive way," said Yael Eckstein, "The power of this Initiative is that it doesn't simply help people with their basic needs but enables them to escape the cycle of poverty. We see it as part of our central vision not to simply assist, but to create better futures for those benefiting from our support. We look forward to many more years of partnership with Colel Chabad and feeding the hungry."
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews of Canada (IFCJ Canada) was founded in 2003 to promote better understanding and cooperation between Christians and Jews and to build broad support for Israel. Today, it is one of the largest providers of not-for-profit humanitarian aid in Israel and is a leading force helping Jews in need worldwide. IFCJ Canada is a registered charity governed by an independent board of directors and led by President Yael Eckstein. For over 20 years, IFCJ Canada has operated alongside a network of Fellowship offices worldwide, including in the United States, Israel, and Korea. The global Fellowship celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, continuing in its mission to bless Israel and the Jewish people — like our world has never seen. For more information, visit www.ifcj.ca.