A new report says at least 50,000 Holocaust survivors in Israel require aid, many facing special challenges as they grow older, particularly if they suffer from dementia or other health issues.
Approximately 200,000 elderly Holocaust survivors are living in Israel, with at least 50,000 requiring aid, according to a report published earlier this week. The Foundation for the Benefit for Holocaust Victims in Israel said in its report, released Sunday, that 40 percent of the survivors who live in Israel feel lonely frequently. Some 35 of them die each day, according to the survey conducted by the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute.
Post-traumatic stress disorder -- PTSD -- is one condition affecting the survivors. Often associated with terrorist attacks and combat situations, PTSD is a constant companion to elderly Holocaust survivors as well, and many wrestle daily with symptoms when they are admitted to a hospital.
“Any elderly person can become slightly disoriented in such a situation,” explained psychotherapist Hana Levi Julian. “But a survivor has to find a way to climb back out of his memories where he sometimes becomes trapped inside.”
One elderly survivor recently admitted to a Jerusalem hospital, Mr. M., suffered catastrophic consequences because the psychiatric medication used to bury those memories had to be discontinued upon admission, according to a hospital source who asked for anonymity. The result: two days and nights of screaming for his murdered mother and sobbing in the ward upstairs.
“Oyyyyy, Mamiyu! Mamamamamama!!!! Mama, there was nothing I could. I didn't know what to do.” When a phlebotomist arrived to gently take a blood test, the old man tried to warn her, weeping, “You don't know who they are!”
Less than two months ago, Holocaust survivors became outraged over a replica of the original gate that was placed at the entrance to the Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp, including the sign 'Arbeit macht frei' displayed at a mall in Jerusalem.
The replica was produced by Dr. Martin Kieselstein, himself a Holocaust survivor, who told Arutz Sheva that he creates statues that are intended to commemorate the Nazis’ atrocities towards the Jews in order to remind the world of the horror that was perpetrated.