gould - Karen Kaufman - October 8 2010
President Shimon Peres, left, with British Ambassador Matthew Gould and his wife Celia in Jerusalem, October 2010. Photo by Karen Kaufman
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Britain's ambassador to Israel and his Israeli counterpart in London have launched a joint appeal to raise money among the British Jewish community to aid Holocaust survivors in both countries.

In a joint letter, the two diplomats write that the aim of the new appeal is to combat loneliness, which they brand “the single biggest hardship the survivors face.”

Matthew Gould, who became Britain's ambassador last summer, and Ron Prosor, who is soon leaving London to become Israel's ambassador at the United Nations, hope the appeal raises 2 million British pounds (some NIS 11 million). The money will give 1,500 Israeli survivors access to social clubs, by establishing eight new clubs across Israel and expanding eight existing ones. The money would also pay for all costs over the next five years, including transport for the wheelchair-bound, as well as providing activities and funding social workers.

The clubs will be set up by the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel, together with the Ministry of Social Welfare. Ten percent of the money will go to the British charity Jewish Care, to help Holocaust Survivors in the UK.

Ambassador Gould explained that the appeal was being launched on Israsel's Holocaust Remembrance Day, and that they were asking every Jewish community in Britain to raise money toward the target, thereby ensuring that who survived the Holocaust do not spend their final years alone.

"This is a very personal mission for me," Gould said. "Many of my family died in the Holocaust. I believe that we have a special duty to look after survivors, and to give them the dignity and comfort that they deserve."

The Ambassadors' appeal has won support from right across the British Jewish community – with support from Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, the United Synagogue, the Movement for Reform Judaism, Liberal Judaism, the Assembly of Masorti Synagogues, the Spanish and Portuguese Jews Congregation, and a number of prominent members of the Haredi community.

A special website has also been set up for the appeal, where visitors can make a donation.