New Kavod Initiative Provides Emergency Funds for Holocaust Survivors

An employee of the Jewish Federation’s Northeast NORC assists a Holocaust survivor in her kitchen
An employee of the Jewish Federation’s Northeast NORC assists a Holocaust survivor in her home. (Photo by Matt Stanley)

An estimated one of every three Holocaust survivors in the United States today lives at or near the poverty line.

In Philadelphia, they will now have access to new resources, courtesy of a partnership between Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Greater Philadelphia (JFCS), Kavod and the Seed the Dream Foundation.

The new resources expand a collaboration with Kavod that’s been in place for about a year, said JFCS CEO and President Paula Goldstein.

“We’re delighted for the partnership. We are really committed to doing anything that we can to help our Holocaust survivors live out their lives in good health and having their various needs met, and Kavod is one spoke on the wheel in terms of enabling that to happen with emergency needs,” Goldstein said. “We’re always very grateful for any funding that comes our way to take care of Holocaust survivors.”

Kavod was started by Amy Israel Pregulman and John Pregulman, a Denver couple who launched the nonprofit 3½ years ago. In May, the organization announced a new initiative to expand the aid it provides, partnering with the Seed the Dream Foundation to launch Kavod Survivors of the Holocaust Emergency Fund (SHEF).

A Northeast NORC employee speaks with a Holocaust survivor at a table
A Northeast NORC employee speaks with a Holocaust survivor.

It’s made possible by a national fundraising campaign with money raised in 12 local communities across the country matched dollar-for-dollar by a coalition of national donors. The additional $3.6 million, raised over two years, will be used to help survivors pay for medical bills, rent, food and home repairs.

“The issue is so striking,” said Amy Israel Pregulman, who serves as Kavod’s executive director. “It’s such a crisis that’s happening across the country, and internationally as well, that these individuals who have suffered a tremendous, horrific experience that most of us can’t even wrap our heads around, that at this stage in their lives that they’re still struggling just [with] day-to-day basic needs. When we share the issue with people, it doesn’t take much for them to say, ‘Oh my gosh, how can I help?’”

One of the communities that partnered with Kavod to raise funds for the initiative is Philadelphia, with 100 percent of the money raised locally going to survivors throughout the area.

Normally, it takes about two to three weeks for Kavod to fulfill funding requests. Locally, such requests will be directed to JFCS via a hotline: 720-295-8484. JFCS will distribute funds from Kavod SHEF anonymously to survivors in the form of gift cards or by directly paying their bills.

Jewish Federation President and CEO Naomi Adler encouraged survivors and loved ones to call the number and take advantage of the available resources.

“There are many survivors that are living at or below the poverty level, which is completely unacceptable given our strong affinity to ensure that they live the rest of their days with dignity and with as much help as possible,” Adler said. “Every single person, take a look at who is in their neighborhood, or in their friend group or [anyone] who would know a Holocaust survivor who is living in the Greater Philadelphia area, and take a moment to grab the national phone number and make sure that every Holocaust survivor knows that if they have emergency medical or dental or rent or any issue that’s going on in their lives, there is additional support for them now.”

Kavod founder John Pregulman hopes to raise awareness of survivor needs through Kavod SHEF and through the nonprofit’s other project — photographing every Holocaust survivor alive today.

“When you think about these seniors and what they’ve been through, we’re trying to raise awareness that these people should not have to suffer again after the suffering they went through 70 years ago,” John Pregulman said. “It just seems like a much larger problem that people don’t know about.”

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