Organizations receive funds to support Holocaust survivors

Joan Grayson Cohen
Joan Grayson Cohen is the executive director of Jewish Community Services. (Courtesy of Cohen)

By Isabella Lefkowitz-Rao and Selah Maya Zighelboim

Two Maryland Jewish community social service organizations are slated to receive parts of a $720 million grant for Holocaust survivors from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, or Claims Conference, the organization announced.

Jewish Community Services in Baltimore and JSSA in Rockville are among the 300 social-welfare organizations to receive the funding, according to the Claims Conference, which negotiates for and disburses funds to individuals and organizations and seeks the return of Jewish property stolen during the Holocaust.

JCS, which received $5.8 million, plans to use the vast majority of the funds to assist Holocaust survivors in living independently.

A small portion of the money will also go toward the Holocaust Survivors Social Club (Cafe Europa), which provides Holocaust survivors with opportunities to socialize. Throughout the pandemic, this social program has connected survivors to online concerts, Shabbat dinners and more. It is currently preparing to return in person.

JCS serves about 300 Holocaust survivors annually.

“This [donation] enables our survivors to [live] with dignity, something they were deprived of earlier in their lives,” said Joan Grayson Cohen, executive director of JCS.

JSSA was awarded $6.2 million.

The funding “ensures the frail survivors in JSSA’s care receive the comprehensive support services they need to continue living at home with the utmost dignity and respect to avoid institutionalization,” said Deborah Adler, manager of JSSA’s Holocaust survivors program.

Gideon Taylor, president of the Claims Conference, said, “We are proud to announce this significant allocation at a time when these funds are critical, due to the age, poverty and increasing disability of our waning survivor population, and as they also continue to face the ongoing uncertainty and threat of COVID-19. We know these funds provide vital support during these difficult times.”

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