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Two Greek cemeteries and a Shoah monument vandalised in apparent hate crimes – Jewish News

Posted By on October 21, 2020

Two Jewish cemeteries and a Holocaust memorial were vandalised in Greece.

The most serious incident, which involved the smashing of several headstones, occurred at the Jewish cemetery on the island of Rhodes on Oct. 11, the Politismika news site reported on Monday.

In a separate incident in the northern city of Thessaloniki on Oct. 16, With Jews you lose was painted on a monument for 50,000 of the citys Jews killed during the Holocaust, according to a report Monday on the Parallaxi news site.

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The third incident occurred at the Jewish cemetery in Thessaloniki on Oct. 10. The perpetrators of that incident wrote death to Israel on the entrance gate to the cemetery.

It is clear that despite the steps that have been taken in recent years, there is still much to be done to combat racism and intolerance, the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki said in a statement.

Earlier this month, antisemitic slogans and a Nazi symbol were scrawled on the stone fence of the Jewish cemetery in Nikaia, a southwestern suburb of Athens. The graffiti included the phrase Juden raus, German for Jews get out, and the symbol of the elite SS Nazi force.

On Oct. 7, the Athens Court of Appeals convicted dozens of the former members of Greeces neo-Nazi Golden Party, including party leader Nikos Michaloliakos, of belonging to a criminal organisation. Michaloliakos and other party leaders were given multi-year jail sentences.

The entrance to the Jewish cemetery of Thessaloniki, Greece bears the slogan death to Israel on Oct. 11, 2020. (Courtesy of the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki)

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Two Greek cemeteries and a Shoah monument vandalised in apparent hate crimes - Jewish News

Marga Minco’s autobiography focuses on experience of Dutch Jews in the Shoah – Jewish News

Posted By on October 21, 2020

Marga Mincos autobiographical novel, Bitter Herbs, which revolves around the experience of Dutch Jews during the Second World War, has been republished for the first time in more than 60 years.

Originally written in 1957, Mincos debut novel has been compared to Anne Franks Diary and has been reissued with a new translation by Jeannette K. Ringold.

The story revolves around one young girl caught up in the events of May 1940, after the Nazis invade her homeland. When there is finally a knock at the door, a split decision is made that will have lasting and devastating consequences on the family.

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Minco, who turned 100 earlier this year, has seen her novel translated into more than 15 languages and hailed as a Dutch classic.

Bitter Herbs by Marga Minco is published by Ebury Press, priced 8.99 (paperback). Available now.

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Marga Minco's autobiography focuses on experience of Dutch Jews in the Shoah - Jewish News

This Year’s Holocaust Museum LA Gala Will Be Star-Studded, Virtual and a Call to Action – Jewish Journal

Posted By on October 21, 2020

In 1961, the Holocaust Museum LA became the first Holocaust museum founded by survivors. The museum became a forum for their artifacts and stories so that their history could be preserved and passed from generation to generation.

Fifty-nine years later, the museum (formerly Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust) is free to all and provides resources and testimonies and stages events honoring the legacies of those lost in the Shoah. Executive Director Beth Kean told the Journal that its undeniable that our community of survivors around the world is getting smaller, which is why it is paramount that Holocaust education continues in California, around the country and all over the world.

With the COVID-19 lockdown halting in-person learning opportunities, and with anti-Semitic threats on the rise, it might seem like an incongruous backdrop for the museums annual fundraising gala on Wednesday, Oct. 21, titled, 45 Minutes of Inspiration. Kean said they are using this time to inspire and empower community members to use their voice.

This years gala is a call to action for everyone to stand up and fight hatred, bigotry, anti-Semitism, especially now, when we are seeing an increase in hate crimes and anti-Semitic incidents, she said. The Holocaust didnt happen in a vacuum. There was a culture of hatred and bigotry leading up to the crimes of the Holocaust. We know what can happen when hatred goes unchecked so its important for people to understand that the lessons of the Holocaust are still relevant to todays society. When hatred exists for any person based on their religious belief, color or creed, it creates an environment for bigotry to flourish. Were all, Jews and non-Jews, in a shared struggle to eradicate hate so we never allow the past to repeat itself.

This years gala is a call to action for everyone to stand up and fight hatred, bigotry, anti-Semitism, especially now, when we are seeing an increase in hate crimes and anti-Semitic incidents. Beth Kean

This years event includes a lineup of famous and familiar faces. Hosted by TV personality Melissa Rivers, virtual attendees will see appearances by Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Billy Crystal, Mayim Bialik, Tiffany Haddish, Jason Alexander, Beanie Feldstein, Gal Gadot, Josh Gad, Mona Golabek, Ben Platt, Marc Shaiman, Jack Black, Lior Raz, Ben Stiller, Richard Lewis, Paul Shaffer, Henry Winkler, Sydney Tamiia Poitier Heartsong and Anika Poitier to name a handful. Many of the guests share their familys Holocaust stories and condemn anti-Semitism and hatred in all forms.

We cannot be silent because silence is complicity, Seinfeld actor Jason Alexander said.

The event also will pay tribute to the recent anti-Semitic hate crimes that have taken place over the past three years including the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh in 2018. Tree of Life Rabbi Chazzan Jeffrey Myer, State Sen. Ben Allen, Ambassador Stuart E. Eizenstat, member of British Parliament Daniel Finkelstein and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti are slated to discuss the importance of the museum and the role government and communities can play in protecting Americans from violence and bigotry.

Celebrating its 10th year at the Pan Pacific Park location, the museum takes pride in its annual efforts to educate thousands of families, students and individuals. Before the pandemic, the museum welcomed more than 20,000 Los Angeles Unified School District students every year for Holocaust education programs. The museum currently has 68 volunteers who are survivors who continue to recount their testimonies on tours. Because school districts in Southern California have modified lesson plans for virtual learning, money raised at the gala will go toward reaching more than 30,000 students in Los Angeles through virtual initiatives.

Despite the pandemic, Kean said the museum has had a robust calendar of virtual programs such as weekly virtual survivor talks; virtual public programming including an Italian film series, book talks and a concert performed live from Krakow; the new Building Bridges series in partnership with community leaders from diverse backgrounds to discuss social issues; Inside the Acid Free Box, a series showcasing archived artifacts that tell fascinating stories of resistance and resilience; an outdoor art installation; countless virtual student tours; and its first fully virtual exhibit in partnership with the David Labkovski Project.

Photo by Tamara Leigh; courtesy of Holocaust Museum LA

Kean noted that all of the artifacts and information on display on the museum floor comprise only approximately 1% of the artifact collection. Survivors and their families have donated their artifacts to the museum over the years so that we can preserve their memories and legacies, she said. Kean said the most rewarding part of her job is hearing from guests how lives are changed forever by walking through our door. Partially because of the programming in place, Kean notes the reason people resonate with the museum is because of the survivors compelling testimonies. Upon entering the space, the first thing guests see is the Tree of Testimony, a permanent video sculpture connecting 51,000 survivor testimonies.

The world knows what we do about the Holocaust because of survivor testimony. Many of our programs are built around survivor engagement and dialogue, Kean said. In looking toward the future, we are investing time and energy into exploring digital avenues to preserve the memories and voices of our survivors. One of the silver linings of the pandemic has been our growing library of testimony from our virtual survivor talks.

45 Minutes of Inspiration, will stream at 5:45 p.m. (PDT) Wednesday, Oct. 21. All proceeds will go toward the continuation of the museums education programs. Click here to register. For more information on how to become a volunteer or to access virtual museum resources, visit its website or join the mailing list. Follow the museum on Instagram @holocaustmuseumla and on Facebook.

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This Year's Holocaust Museum LA Gala Will Be Star-Studded, Virtual and a Call to Action - Jewish Journal

National Day of Commemoration: Female victims under the Nazi regime memorialised this year – RTL Today

Posted By on October 21, 2020

Since 1946, the victims of the Nazi oppression are commemorated in Luxembourg.

75 years ago, the Second World War came to an end. The joy and relief that came with the demise of the Nazi troops was immense, but the victims, dead or missing, were immediately memorialised. The national day of commemoration that will take place this weekend will especially honour the female victims of the war, whose role is often forgotten about.

In this year's proclamation, the government indeed states that men were the ones to fight against the Nazi occupation in the resistance movement, and that they were the ones to be forced into a war that was not theirs to fight - resulting in population transfers and deportations.

Unfortunately, the role of women, who had to bear the terrors of wars by themselves, is often forgotten about in popular history, which is why this year will focus on the female victims, mothers and daughters.

Their role was indispensable to the resistance movement, not only in Luxembourg, but in all fighting countries. Without them, the opposing forces would not have worked as efficiently on the home front. Indeed, men were responsible for the physical fight, but on the home front, women were the ones to hold up the morale and supplies. In addition, mothers found themselves in emotional turmoil as their children were often forcedly removed from their homes - especially with Jewish families.

The courage that these women displayed should serve as a role model for everyone, the government stresses. In a way, civil courage is still relevant to this very day, and fighting for common values remains essential.

In the context of the national day of commemoration, a lot of attention will be brought to the young women who were forced to work for the Third Reich's Labour Service (Reichsarbeitdienst, RAD). A commemorative plaque will be unveiled in their honour, in the presence of the Grand Duke.

Further ceremonies will take place near the Gare district, at the Kanounenhiwwel where the eternal flame is located, near the Kaddish monument of the Shoah, near the Gelle Fra monument, and finally, on the Limpertsberg cemetery.

In addition, the whole country will naturally commemorate the Luxembourgers who were victims of the terror, misery, and war crimes induced by the Nazi regime.

Since 1946, the national day of commemoration is celebrated to honour October 10th, 1941. This date marks a significant event in Luxembourgish national history, as on that day during the Nazi population count and famous referendum, Luxembourgers resisted by answering 'three times Luxembourgish'. 200 resistance fighters were imprisoned after this incident.

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National Day of Commemoration: Female victims under the Nazi regime memorialised this year - RTL Today

History repeats itself: A Holocaust survivor reflects on the election – Forward

Posted By on October 21, 2020

Fear gripped me, as it did many Americans, on election night 2016. As I began to feel tightness in my throat and heaviness in my chest, memories of my adolescence in Nazi-occupied Hungary returned.

I dont recall any time in my life when I was not aware of antisemitism. I grew up in a village in northern Hungary where 40 Jewish families were socially and culturally separated from our peasant neighbors. By the time I was in high school, there was no expectation that I could attend university, as severe antisemitism had closed the doors of universities to Jews.

Antisemitism was not new to Hungary. Hungarian Jews had endured massacres and expulsions for centuries, interspersed with times when the impoverished nation welcomed Jews back to help the economy. Between 1848 and 1914, for example, Hungarian Jews established financial institutions and made noteworthy contributions to art, literature, medicine, and law.

During these fruitful periods of collaboration, the Jews were lulled into believing there was permanence in their new status. But in the anarchy and communist regime that followed World War I, Jews were targeted as scapegoats. After Hitler rose to power in 1933, Germanys military and cultural alliance with Hungary led to more vocal antisemitism and demands to eliminate Jews from civil service, the army and other professions.

During the ominous years of World War II, my parents struggled to maintain a semblance of normalcy at home even as every step we took was controlled by fear. Gone were the days when my mother would prepare the village children for our Hanukkah play. Instead, we spoke in hushed tones, silences interrupted by my fathers periodic sighs. My father and other heads of Jewish families were arrested and taken to jail on trumped-up charges. Young men were put into forced labor camps. My two older brothers did not survive the harsh conditions.

As the Germans suffered severe defeats on the Eastern front, Hungarian Jews clung to the hope that the war would end before things became worse. However, German troops occupied Hungary in March 1944 and swiftly followed by the deportation of the Jewish population from the countryside.

My mother and I were inmates in a concentration camp in Plaszow, near Krakow, as the war progressed without our awareness. Sometime in the early fall, they herded us into the cattle cars again, this time to Auschwitz. After some days there, we were moved for a long, cold winter in a labor camp in the Czech Republic. Our liberation came only on May 8, 1945 the last day of the war.

Now, 71 years after that liberation, the behavior of the president feels reminiscent of that time. From the beginning, there has been a search for scapegoats. In Europe of my youth, the Jews were the targets; in this country, Muslims and immigrants have taken that place and antisemitism has been reactivated. People fleeing from violence in their home countries are portrayed as murderers and criminals. The current anti-immigration rhetoric, fueled by deeply entrenched racial attitudes in this country, is reminiscent of the Nazis dependence on centuries-old antisemitism to ensure the passage of anti-Jewish legislation.

On the news, I saw a little girl from Honduras calling out a phone number her dad had given her in case of their separation. I was reminded of my childhood friend who carved into her memory the phone number of the bank where her father had deposited money for her in the hope that she would survive.

Children worry about their futures, asking: Why should I study for a future when I will not be here? Their anxiety brings me back to a conversation I had with a young boy as we were anticipating deportation. He asked, Do you think they will kill us? Without hesitation, I said, Yes. With the whole Jewish population of the village crowded into a few houses with inadequate sleeping arrangements and not enough food, there was no reason for us to think we had a future.

The United States has known many periods of high anxiety, including nuclear threats, active shooters, financial collapse, fire and floods and, now, a global pandemic. But past presidents have protected the population, while our current president enacts measures that primarily protect his personal safety and wealth without consideration of citizens. His self-centered attitude affects every aspect of his presidency, twisting issues that include climate change and gun safety, and politicizing scientific data to suit his needs.

Having the Holocaust in my past leads me to a heightened sensitivity to the present. I find that most people go about their daily business without focusing on climate change, gun control or what is happening on the Southern border. While the United States is divided between those who adopt the presidents vision and those who continue to adhere to the democratic principles of the Constitution and the rule of law, the reality is that many of us are shielded from the immediate consequences of the political situation.

For this very reason, we must become intentionally conscious of what is happening. While it is now others who are enduring hardships, eventually we all will be affected by the racist, divisive, long-term effects of a chaotic and poorly functioning administration. This is the time, for us as individuals, as a nation, and most of all, as Jews, to uphold the democratic principles our country was founded on, principles for which many have given their lives.

Dr. Anna Ornstein, an Auschwitz survivor, is a renowned psychoanalyst and psychiatrist, author, speaker, and scholar. A longer version of this article appeared in the Spring/Summer 2020 edition of the Bulletin of the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the authors own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

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History repeats itself: A Holocaust survivor reflects on the election - Forward

Facebook, Twitter on the Right Side of History With Bans on Holocaust Denial – InsideSources

Posted By on October 21, 2020

Anti-Semitisms lengthy history is built on ignorance and the perpetuation of lies by people who hate Jews. Its a disease far more incurable than a pandemic.

Over the centuries, despots disliked a people whose theology introduced a code of morality and justice that flipped civilizations. From pharaohs to Hitler and too many others to name, rulers responded with force and power, mostly sentencing Jews to slavery, ghettos and death.

Today, people continue to foment hate fueled by ignorance and lies, and still targeting Jews. The weapon of choice for ignorance and lies is a platform of recklessness called social media. Oh sure, when used responsibly, social media is a very productive tool. Such responsible behavior is not common these days.

But on Oct. 12, Facebook, with its users representing one-third of the worlds 7.8 billion people, decided to do something really bold about this recklessness by simply acting responsibly the social media platform decided not to allow people to lie about the Holocaust.

Days later, Twitter announced its hateful conduct policy issued its own prohibition of attempts to deny or diminish violent events, including the Holocaust. Twitter has taken aim primarily at white supremacists and neo-Nazis.

Facebooks Monika Bickert announced in a blog a hate speech policy update, specifically to prohibit any content that denies or distorts the Holocaust.

The companys decision was prompted by the recent rise in anti-Semitism, not just vandalism or insults, but shootings and physical attacks, and an alarming level of ignorance about the Holocaust. Bickert noted a recent survey that showed that one in four American adults between ages 18 and 39 believed the Holocaust is a myth.

One might wonder how on earth is this ignorance possible in the United States?

For decades, survivors have made presentations. Newsreel footage starkly shows the horrifying, shocking images. Books on the subject fill libraries. Two-thirds (34) of the states in the U.S. mandate some form of Holocaust or genocide education.

About the same number of states have impressive museums, mostly in major population centers, or monuments seen by many others. The 16 U.S. states without such mandates have less population cumulatively than California.

There are 43 countries in the world with Holocaust museums or memorials. In Europe, Germany boasts 22 memorials and museums. France has 13 Holocaust memorials or museums. Greece has 10 museums and monuments. Those numbers dont include memorials and displays in synagogues and temples.

Yad Vashem The World Holocaust Remembrance Center makes available ready to print exhibitions. Auschwitz-Birkenau is widely visited, but the solemnity of this hallowed earth is lost with eye-catching signage that welcomes tour buses.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center has exhibitions ready for travel. Steven Spielbergs Shoah Foundation has created captivating holographic interviews of survivors that will give life to eyewitness accounts long after survivors take their final breaths.

The United Nations and its agencies, notably UNESCO (the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization), with all of its flaws, embraces Holocaust education with permanent displays of art and various publications.

In May, the latest Holocaust-related legislation passed in Congress was the Never Again Education Act. More than 30 countries have adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism.

Despite all of the access to information, what has the world learned? It has learned that ancient hate thrives in the modern world.

So, Facebooks banning of Holocaust denial is an important, courageous act of media leadership.

Its been a long time coming and Bnai Brith International has long advocated such a move. CEO Mark Zuckerberg is to be commended, though the company admits that enforcing the policy, policing the platform, will be quite a challenge.

Twitters announcement is equally welcome. But if the bright Facebook and Twitter coders can write algorithms and direct users with hashtags and other tools, they should be able to identify keywords that will curb the volume of hate posts before they hit the digital universe.

Germans worked hard to keep the Holocaust secret.

Rumors swirled as work camps becoming death camps Dachau, Chelmo, Treblinka, Sobibor, Belzec, Auschwitz were shockingly real. But the Nazis own record-keeping carefully lays out the horrific truth of the Holocaust.

Nazis even documented mass shootings, starvations, experimental surgeries, the crematoria, the piles of skeletal bodies. Thousands of camps dotted Nazi-controlled European countries. Eleven million people, more than six million Jews, were systematically murdered.

Of course anti-Semitism didnt begin, or end, with the Holocaust, and rulers have been complicit in Jew hatred for thousands of years.

With the modern Jewish State of Israel maturing nicely at 72, the lies that generated anti-Semitism continue today from across the political spectrum, from extreme Islamists and with U.N. resolutions denying any ancient Jewish connection to the Western Wall, not to mention any Jewish roots there in general.

The United Nations could and should learn from the example of Facebook. Resolutions that deny undeniable Jewish history insult the U.N. mission. As for other media all media they should learn from the Facebook and Twitter examples.

For a media platform that could never police itself adequately from lies, rage baiting and hate all things wrong Facebook got this one right.

And Twitter followed.

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Facebook, Twitter on the Right Side of History With Bans on Holocaust Denial - InsideSources

Twitter intends to remove posts denying the Holocaust – Cleveland Jewish News

Posted By on October 21, 2020

Twitter announced last week that it will remove posts that deny the Holocaust.

Bloomberg first reported the move on Oct. 14.

Our Hateful Conduct Policy prohibits a wide range of behavior, including making references to violent events or types of violence where protected categories were the primary victims, or attempts to deny or diminish such events, a Twitter spokesperson told the outlet.

Twitters mission is to serve the public conversation and ensure the service is a place where people can express themselves safely, added the spokesperson. We strongly condemn anti-Semitism, and hateful conduct has absolutely no place on our service. We also have a robust glorification of violence policy in place and take action against content that glorifies or praises historical acts of violence and genocide, including the Holocaust.

Twitters move came just days after Facebook announced that it is banning posts that deny or distort the Holocaust.

Despite the decision, along with Google, the social-media site has declined to participate in a virtual event this week hosted by the U.S. State Department on combating anti-Semitism online.

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Twitter intends to remove posts denying the Holocaust - Cleveland Jewish News

Twitter follows Facebook on removing posts that deny the Holocaust – CNBC

Posted By on October 21, 2020

Twitter CEO and Co Founder, Jack Dorsey addresses students at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), on November 12, 2018 in New Delhi, India.

Amal KS | Hindustan Times | Getty Images

Twitter confirmed it is going to start removing posts that deny the Holocaust just two days after Facebook implemented the same policy.

"We strongly condemn anti-Semitism, and hateful conduct has absolutely no place on our service," said a Twitter spokesperson in a statement Wednesday.

"We also have a robust 'glorification of violence' policy in place and take action against content that glorifies or praises historical acts of violence and genocide, including the Holocaust."

The news was first reported by Bloomberg. Twitter's Hateful Conduct Policy prohibits making references to violent events or attempts to deny or diminish such events.

Around 6 million Jews were systematically murdered by Nazi Germany during the Holocaust, which started in 1941 and ended in 1945.

British rapper Wiley was banned from Twitter in July after he posted a series of anti-Semitic tweets. Tweets from Wiley's account asserted that Jews have systematically exploited Black musicians. In one tweet, which has now been deleted, he compared Jews to the Ku Klux Klan.

On Monday, Facebook announced that it will ban content that "denies or distorts the Holocaust," reversing its earlier policy. The company said it introduced the change after noticing a rise in anti-Semitism.

In a 2018 podcast interview, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook didn't remove Holocaust-denying content because it must allow for the possibility that users are making unintentional mistakes. "I don't think that they're intentionally getting it wrong," Zuckerberg said of users who shared that type of content.

In announcing the change, Facebook said: "Our decision is supported by the well-documented rise in anti-Semitism globally and the alarming level of ignorance about the Holocaust, especially among young people."

On Monday, actor and comedian Sacha Baron Cohen wrote on Twitter that "Facebook should have banned Holocaust denial long ago, but better late than never."

He called on Twitter, YouTube, Reddit and Google to do the same, saying it was "not a hard call."

CNBC's Michelle Gao contributed to this article.

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Twitter follows Facebook on removing posts that deny the Holocaust - CNBC

Saul & Ruby’s Holocaust Survivor Band Performance and Q&A – jewishboston.com

Posted By on October 21, 2020

Saul Dreier didnt pick up the drumsticks until he was 89 years old, but he is motivated by a dream: to perform and share the klezmer music that sustained him during his time in concentration camps. Only a few years later, he and his friend, 87-year-old accordionist/keyboardist Ruby Sosnowicz, form the Holocaust Survivor Band.

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The duo are on a mission to share their lust for life and spread peace to the world. Their pursuit takes a new direction as they read about the rise of antisemitism and prejudice: The bands new goal is to return to Poland, where they were born, and perform in tribute to their families and so many others who perished.

Join director Tod Lending and film subjects Saul Dreier and Ruby Sosnowicz for a live Q&A and musical performance.This live program is included with the purchase of the corresponding film ticket or a Boston Jewish Film Festival pass.

Tod Lending is an Academy Award-nominated and Emmy-winning producer, director and cinematographer whose work has been broadcast on television, played at national and international festivals, screened theatrically and inspired the passing of federal legislation. He is the president and founder of Nomadic Pictures in Chicago.

Saul Dreier is the founder of the Holocaust Survivor Band and survivor of several years of concentration camps. After liberation, Dreier moved to the U.S., where he met his wife and started his business. Ruby Sosnowicz is the co-founder and musical director of the Holocaust Survivor Band who survived Nazi persecution and later became a historian, archivist and performer of Jewish music with numerous orchestras and bands.

CJP provides the above links concerning third-party events for your convenience only. CJP has no control over the content of the linked-to websites or events they describe, and accepts no responsibility for the websites, including any advertising or products or services on or available from such sites, or for any loss or damage that may arise from your attending, or registering to attend, the described events. If you decide to access any of the third-party websites linked to below, you do so entirely at your own risk and subject to the terms and conditions of use for such websites and event attendance. CJP is not responsible or liable to you or any third party for the content or accuracy of any materials provided by any third parties. All statements and/or opinions expressed in the linked-to materials or at the described events, and all commentary, articles and other content provided at the third-party websites or at the events, are solely the opinions and the responsibility of the persons or entities operating the linked-to websites and events. The inclusion of any link on this website does not imply that CJP endorses the described event, or the linked-to website or its operator.MORE

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Saul & Ruby's Holocaust Survivor Band Performance and Q&A - jewishboston.com

Germany to give $662 million to Holocaust survivors struggling during the coronavirus pandemic – CBS News

Posted By on October 21, 2020

Germany plans to pay more than half a billion dollars to Holocaust survivors who are struggling to get by during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference), the organization that negotiates compensation with the German government, said Wednesday that $662 million in COVID-19 relief aid will be divided among about 240,000 of the poorest Holocaust survivors. The survivors are located primarily in Israel, North America, the former Soviet Union and Western Europe.

"These increased benefits achieved by the hard work of our negotiation's delegation during these unprecedented times, will help our efforts to ensure dignity and stability in survivors' final years," said Gideon Taylor, President of the Claims Conference. "We must meet the challenges of the increasing needs of survivors as they age, coupled with the new and urgent necessities caused by the global pandemic. It will always remain our moral imperative to keep fighting for every survivor."

Eligible survivors will receive two supplemental payments of $1,400 each over the next two years. This is in addition to $4.3 million in emergency funds distributed by the Claims Conference in the spring.

According to the Claims Conference, a large portion of Holocaust survivors, especially those in the former Soviet Union, are living in poverty, which has only been exacerbated by the pandemic. Survivors, who are all elderly, face increased health, emotional and financial barriers due to the pandemic, which disproportionally affects older populations.

"In the face of a devastating global pandemic, it was vital to secure larger increases for survivors while also seeking immediate funds to help them through these extremely challenging times," said Ambassador Stuart E. Eizenstat, Claims Conference Special Negotiator.

Negotiators emphasized the need for extra funds to cover the cost of groceries, medicine, personal protective equipment, transportation to doctors and other pandemic-related expenses.

The organization said that the most recent negotiations with Germany also resulted in a $36 million increase in funding for social welfare services for survivors compared to last year, for a total of $651 million. Additionally, it classified certain regions in Bulgaria and Romania as "open ghettos," which allows survivors living there to receive compensation payments from the Claims Conference.

The organization said the funding is used for in-home care for more than 83,000 survivors and other vital services for more than 70,000 others.

According to the Claims Conference, negotiations since 1952 have led to the German government paying more than $70 billion in Holocaust reparations to over 800,000 survivors.

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Germany to give $662 million to Holocaust survivors struggling during the coronavirus pandemic - CBS News


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