Israel Hayom via JNS
By Noam Dvir
The average age of Israel’s 165,800 remaining survivors is now 85, according to the Holocaust Survivors’ Rights Authority • “Our watch is the last watch,” says Israeli Social Equality Minister Meirav Cohen.
Over the past year, 15,324 Holocaust survivors died in Israel, according to data published on Wednesday by the country’s Social Equality Ministry.
According to the report, published by the ministry’s Holocaust Survivors’ Rights Authority on the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, there are currently 165,800 survivors in Israel, 90% of whom are 80 or older. The average age of survivors is 85. Some 31,000, or 19%, are over 90, and over 950 are over 100. Sixty percent of the survivors known to the Authority are women, with the average age among this group being 85.4.
Nearly two-thirds (64%) of known survivors were born in Europe. The largest group, 36% or 59,900, were born in the former Soviet Union, followed by 19,100 born in Romania, 8,900 in Poland, 4,500 in Bulgaria, 2,400 in Hungary and 2,300 in Germany.
The other 36% of known survivors in Israel were born in Asia and North Africa, including 30,600 Moroccan and Algerian-born citizens who suffered under France’s Vichy government. These include 18,000 Baghdad natives who were victimized by anti-Semitic rioting in Iraq in June 1941. Another 11,000 were born in Tunisia and Libya and were subjected to race laws and sent to labor camps.
Only 5% of known survivors in Israel made aliyah before founding of the state, while another 11% arrived by the end of 1948. Some 80,500 (48%) made aliyah by the end of the 1950s and over one-third made aliyah starting in 1989 in the big wave from the former Soviet Union. In 2021, an additional 98 survivors made aliyah.
Haifa has the highest number of survivor residents at 11,300, followed by Jerusalem (10,300), Tel Aviv (8,900), Ashdod (8,200), Netanya (8,000), Beersheva (7,050), Petah Tikva (6,700) and Rishon Lezion (6,500).
In 2021, the Authority transferred some 4.1 billion shekels ($1.29 billion) in stipends and grants directly to survivors. A total of 50,800 survivors who lived through the camps and the ghettos, lived under assumed identities or in hiding, worked in labor camps or were with their parents who worked as forced laborers receive monthly stipends ranging from 2,554-6,412 shekels ($803-$2,017), based on their level of disability. Of these, 15,500 low-income survivors receive monthly stipends of up to 11,729 shekels ($3,690).
An additional 111,600 receive annual grants of up to 6,500 shekels ($2,044). A total of 3,400 survivors in Israel receive stipends from abroad, and have the amount topped up by the authority to the amount of 2,538 shekels ($798).
The Holocaust Survivors’ Rights Authority also provides monthly stipends to some 18,000 widows and widowers of survivors.
“Our watch is the last watch, and it comes with great responsibility. The average age of Holocaust survivors is 85. These are the last years we have to serve them, allow them to age in dignity and also document as many of their stories as possible, because not long from now, there won’t be anyone to tell them,” said Social Equality Minister Meirav Cohen.
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.
Caption: Holocaust survivors and Israeli soldiers in Herzliya, on Oct. 25, 2021.
Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90.