Over 15,500 Holocaust Survivors Died in Israel Over the Past Year

On average, 42 Holocaust survivors died per day last year ■ Survivors' average age in Israel is 85.5, with about 31,500 of them over 90 and more than 1,000 older than 100

Bar Peleg
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FILE: The tattooed arm of a Holocaust survivor, Judith Spielberger Mittelman, earlier this year.
FILE: The tattooed arm of a Holocaust survivor, Judith Spielberger Mittelman, earlier this year.Credit: Mike Segar / Reuters
Bar Peleg
Bar Peleg

An average of 42 Holocaust survivors died per day last year in Israel for a total of 15,533, data from the Holocaust Survivors’ Rights Authority in the Social Equality Ministry says.

Data also shows that 161,400 Holocaust survivors and victims of antisemitism during that period are currently living in Israel. Government officials have voiced the state's continued obligation to support them.

National Insurance Institute data reveals that the group is needier than average: 31 percent of the survivors receive old-age allowances, with an additional minimum income allowance for those who have very low incomes. This compares with only 23 percent of the general population in the same age group.

The survivors' average age is 85 and a half, with about 31,500 of them over 90 and over 1,000 older than 100.

Last year, the Authority focused on increasing survivors' annual allowance by some 300 million shekels. This comes in addition to the increases in the minimum-income allowance, given to the poorest of the group, whose total cost is 1.5 billion shekels.

"Our public and state responsibility is to assist Holocaust survivors in every way possible and to ensure they are living with dignity," said Meir Shpigler, the director general of the National Insurance Institute. "As time goes on, this becomes increasingly critical."

42,000 Holocaust survivors receive services and support from the Social Services Ministry, its figures show. In 2021, the ministry allocated 77 million shekels for providing services to those eligible, with most of the money – about 50 million shekels – budgeted for social activities and measures to prevent the survivors from becoming isolated.

“We don’t have to wait for Holocaust Remembrance Day to remember the need for it," said Shpigler. "But I hope on that day we can succeed in advancing more legislative changes on behalf of those who experienced the worst, and it is our responsibility to care for them."

Earlier this year the Chasdei Naomi charity group said the government was falling short of its obligations.

“The ones who really need to be responsible for taking care of Holocaust survivors is the state of Israel. Unfortunately, that doesn’t exist,” said Tshuva Cabra, the group's head of donations, in January.

Colette Avital, a former Israeli diplomat and Holocaust survivor who heads the Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors in Israel, said in January that while the government's attitude has improved, “the blanket is short and that is not enough.” She said there's broad public support for survivors but the government needs to provide more assistance.

Of the survivors recognized by the Authority, 63 percent were born in Europe and, of those, the largest group were born in the former Soviet Union, 37 percent. Twelve percent were born in Romania, 5 percent in Poland, 2.7 percent in Bulgaria, 1.4 percent in both Hungary and Germany, and 1 percent in France and the former Czechoslovakia.

Eighteen and a half percent of the survivors are originally from Morocco and Algeria; this group suffered from various restrictions and harassment under the Vichy French regime. Eleven percent are from Iraq and suffered from the Farhud pogrom in June 1941. Another 7 percent of survivors are originally from Libya and Tunisia; they suffered under racial laws and were deported to forced labor camps, and some were even sent to the Giado concentration camp.

Sixty-one percent of the survivors are women, and only 10 percent of the total survivor population are currently married. Within Israel, Haifa has the largest population of survivors, 11,000, followed by Jerusalem at 10,000 and Tel Aviv with 8,700.

Social Services Minister Meir Cohen has echoed the need to support survivors: “We have a social, national and historic obligation to ensure that Holocaust survivors will live in financial security and in a warm social environment in the years they have remaining, and we will not forget that for even a moment."

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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