JFCS East Bay Receives Funds for Holocaust Survivor Care

March 02, 2016
By Avi Rose

JFCS East Bay is proud to announce that it was selected as one of 23 agencies across the country to receive a grant from the Jewish Federations of North America through their recently launched Center for Advancing Holocaust Survivor Care. These grants mark the first time in history that the United States federal government has provided direct funding for Holocaust survivor services. When combined with matching funds, JFCS East Bay’s award will enable $180,000 in new programming for survivors this year.

Building on JFCS East Bay’s current comprehensive services for survivors, our new funded program will specifically address the trauma experienced by Holocaust survivors from the former Soviet Union who now live in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Survivors from the former Soviet Union (FSU) tended to have significantly different experiences during and after the war than survivors from European countries. Survivors from the FSU were never given validation of or recognition for their early life trauma. The psychology of trauma was simply ignored by the Soviet regime for many decades. Living under this regime and experiencing constant anti-Semitism added more stressors and created ongoing trauma for these survivors and their children. Immigration brought political freedom, but stopped their career development and involved more loss. To address this complex range of needs, JFCS East Bay’s holistic program will include a psycho-educational group, a yoga program, a health and wellness educational program, individual counseling and family support for caregivers, socialization support, and transportation assistance to and from program activities. The program will be coordinated and facilitated by a Russian-speaking clinical social worker.

“We feel honored to have been chosen as part of this important Holocaust survivor care initiative,” says Rita Clancy, LCSW, JFCS East Bay Director of Adult Services, who oversees all agency programs for Holocaust survivors. “We recognize the gap in trauma-informed services in older adulthood, especially in relation to survivors, and are privileged to respond to this unmet need.”

The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) launched the Center for Advancing Holocaust Survivor Care in the fall of 2015, following an award from the United States Department of Health and Human Services for up to $12 million over 5 years to advance innovations in person-centered, trauma-informed (PCTI) services for Holocaust survivors in the United States. PCTI care is a holistic approach to service provision that promotes the dignity, strength, and empowerment of trauma victims by incorporating knowledge about the role of trauma in victims’ lives into agency programs, policies, and procedures.

Of the more than 100,000 Holocaust survivors in the United States, nearly a quarter are aged eighty-five or older, and one in four lives in poverty. Many live alone and are at risk for social isolation, depression, and other physical and mental health conditions stemming from periods of starvation, disease, and torture.

“Taking care of Holocaust survivors, ensuring that they have their physical and emotional needs met, is of the utmost importance and a fully attainable goal if we continue to work together,” says Mark Wilf, chair of JFNA’s National Holocaust Survivor Initiative.

“Grantees of the Center for Advancing Holocaust Survivor Care will lead the charge and help prepare the nation’s Aging Services Network to ensure all Holocaust survivors living below the poverty line have their basic needs met,” says Todd Morgan, vice chair of JFNA’s National Holocaust Survivor Initiative.