ICEJ Expands Haifa Home

Second new building houses medical, dental clinics for Holocaust Survivors

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27 May 2011
ICEJ Expands Haifa Home

On the eve of Israel’s annual Holocaust Remembrance Day last month, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem joined its local charitable partner Yad Ezer L’Haver in Haifa in opening the second phase of the nation’s largest assisted-living home solely committed to caring for destitute Holocaust survivors. Besides housing dozens of well-deserving residents, the newest building will also contain a medical clinic and dental clinic to provide free health care to Holocaust survivors from throughout northern Israel.

Over the past year, the Christian Embassy has been funding the expansion of the Yad Ezer assisted-living facility in Haifa for impoverished Holocaust survivors, which originally housed 14 residents. The ICEJ has now purchased and renovated two apartment buildings on either side of the original home to accomodate more Survivors.

The second new building was officially opened in late April in the presence of Minister of Social Welfare Moshe Kahalon, MK David Azoulai, MK Gila Gamliel, Chief Rabbi of Haifa (Ashkenazi) Sha'ar Yeshuv Cohen, and other Israeli dignitaries. Several hundred Holocaust survivors were also among the guests in attendance.

This unique project is a model for dealing with the growing national problem of poor and needy survivors of the Shoah. An estimated 200,000 Holocaust survivors currently live in Israel, and up to one-third of these are in dire financial straits, often due to huge medical bills.

The expanded “warm home” will now provide survivors with all their lodging, food and a nurse station. A community kitchen and dining room is already being used to feed dozens of additional Holocaust survivors who live nearby. 

More than 2,000 applicants, mostly survivors of Nazi death camps in Poland and Germany, have signed up on the waiting list for a place to stay in the expanded facility. A careful selection process has identified the most worthy tenants based on need.

The ICEJ’s involvement in this urgent humanitarian project is part of its increased focus on reaching out to elderly Holocaust survivors in Israel. The Christian Embassy has been giving new emphasis in recent years on helping to ease their suffering and allowing them to live out their years with dignity, whether through adoption programs, special assistance at holidays, or investment in initiatives like the Yad Ezer facility.

“We are pleased to be able to reach out once more to these precious Jewish people who were subjected to such unspeakable horrors and evil during the Holocaust”, said Rev. Malcolm Hedding, Executive Director of the ICEJ. “We can never fully know or understand the depths of what they went through but we can give them hope, love, care and most of all dignity.”

“We are especially proud that much of the funding for this unique project came from German Christians, who decided to help shoulder their national responsibility and debt to the Jewish people with this warm home for Holocaust survivors”, added ICEJ International Director Dr. Jürgen Bühler, who also heads the Embassy’s branch in Germany. “These gifts will never make up for what they suffered, but it does give hope for the present and for the future.”

Dr. Bühler and the ICEJ AID department are coordinating the Haifa project with Shimon Sabag, founder of Yad Ezer, which also sponsors soup kitchens, home food deliveries, homeless shelters, and a number of other charitable initiatives in northern Israel.

“When we established this facility, our goal was to help those who had experienced such horrors and suffering during the Shoah”, said Sabag. “This warm home for Holocaust survivors is such a bright spot in their lives.”

“We truly appreciate all the help the Christian Embassy is bringing to these survivors”, added Israeli Knesset member Gila Gamliel. “In today’s world, it is hard for them to survive on a state pension of only NIS 1800 (US$ 500) per month. So it is very important to assist these survivors who not only suffered from the Nazis. They are also the ones who built the state of Israel. They fought our wars. Now they are alone and need our help.”

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