By Olga Kopilova, Forsake Them Not Coordinator
Comfort, yes, comfort My people!” Says your God.
Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her,
That her warfare is ended, That her iniquity is pardoned;
For she has received from the Lord’s hand Double for all her sins." (Isaiah 40:1-2)
Forsake Them Not is a special project of helping needy and sick Holocaust survivors with financial aid and with God’s love. The hearts of these precious survivors are still sore from their horrible experiences from living in a concentration camp or in a ghetto during WWII. Their current situation in Israel brings back these old memories. Daily, the survivors struggle with financial problems, poor health, loneliness, fear and feelings of being forsaken in their sunset years. It is really difficult for most of these elderly ones. We do not want to forsake Holocaust Survivors as they journey through the last years of their life. We visit those who have come from the former Soviet Union. We are very aware that the door of opportunity to bless survivors is closing rapidly.
For the closing of the year 2014, many Children of the Holocaust - survivors of the war - attended the Association of Concentration Camps and Ghetto Survivors’ Annual General Assembly, to commemorate those who perished during the Holocaust and WW2. This event took place in Jerusalem at Yad VaShem.
Over the last 12 years, CFI has built a strong relationship and friendship with the chairman of the Association, Gita Koifman. Through this connection, we are able to identify survivors who need help, and who are lonely or sick, and to visit them.
I would like to share a few words about the Association and its work.
The Association of Concentration Camps and Ghetto Survivors was founded in 1992 by a group of people from the post Soviet Union, who were survivors of the ghettos and had a burning desire to help others like them. At the beginning, there were a total of 300 people, all of whom survived the Holocaust – ex-prisoners of Ghettos and Camps, those who managed to hide in the occupied territories, or those who joined the partisans.
In the Association’s annual conference in 2001, new statutes were implemented stating that every ex-prisoner of Nazism could become a member of the Association. Today, the Association includes 33 organisations in various towns and cities of Israel, with a total number of 3,500 members, who are mainly Russian speaking survivors.
The Association is a non-profit organisation and is working on a voluntary basis. Activities of the Association are funded by the annual membership fees and donations from sponsors. In recent years, the activities of the various towns’ organisations considerably increased, in the form of help to needy survivors, tours of museums around the country, and celebrations of significant events and feasts.
The Association defends/represents the interests of the survivors in local, state and international organisations, also providing help with necessary document completion and registrations.
The Survivors are greatly comforted every time we are able to bring them love and gifts on your behalf. Thank you for your prayers, love and gifts.
June was a very eventful month for the Forsake Them Not team.
On the 15th of July we were invited to the 15th Anniversary of Hadera’s Organisation of Concentration Camps and Ghetto Survivors. Warm words of acknowledgement and appreciation, plus wishes from long term friends and sponsors, were spoken. Some older members of organisation recalled the first steps in the history of the organisation, which included only a small number of Holocaust Survivors and grew up to almost 240 members today. Hadera’s branch of the Association of Concentration Camps and Ghetto Survivors is one of the biggest now and is very active in helping people and organising different events and excursions around Israel. All this is possible with the help of different sponsorship programmes. Festive tables were set nicely and songs in Russian, Yiddish and Hebrew were received with great pleasure and enjoyment. People were dancing and their faces shining. We gave to Yevgenia – the leader of the organisation, certificate of acknowledgement for the hard work and great impact in people’s lives. We met many old friends and made further plans for new visits.
This year marks the 70th Anniversary of the Great Victory Day over Nazi Germany. Many events were organised to celebrate this, which is very important for so many survivors. On the 22nd of July The Association of Concentration Camps and Ghetto Survivors organised a conference in Tel Aviv, with over 300 participants from all over Israel. The date chosen was symbolic – the beginning of World War II in Soviet Union in 1941 and the great defeat of Nazism that followed. There was a nice concert with participation of famous musicians, including The Virtuosi of Tel-Aviv ensemble, which brings together the musicians of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. It was a very special day, full of joy and a festive mood.
I also would like to share with you few of the latest thank you letters from the Holocaust survivors:
Dear Friends, I am very touched by the present you gave us. I appreciate so much the care you have shown to us. Ilya
Dear Christians, We want to express our gratitude to you, from our hearts, for your help, and the sincere care you have shown to us. We wish you good health and long life. Thank you for the support you have given to us. Sincerely Genia