After outcry, Holocaust survivors allowed to move to Oslo Jewish nursing home

Skien municipality reverses decision to deny request to go to facility in Norwegian capital on grounds it could provide accommodations locally

File: Oslo's Bergstien Street synagogue. (photo credit: CC BY Metro Centric, Flickr)
File: Oslo's Bergstien Street synagogue. (photo credit: CC BY Metro Centric, Flickr)

JTA — Following an outcry, a city in Norway reversed its decision not to let two Holocaust survivors move to the country’s only Jewish nursing home in Oslo.

On Wednesday, the Skien municipality held a City Council vote on the matter after earlier this year declining the request of Leif Arild, 86, and an older applicant because it “can provide a good and adequate offer” locally, as a municipal spokesperson told the Varden newspaper this week.

Varden ran an op-ed calling on Skien to reverse its decision, and the Jewish Community in Oslo also urged the municipality to allow the survivors to move.

Elderly Norwegians are eligible for state-funded housing solutions. If their needs cannot be met in their area of residence, they are referred to appropriate facilities elsewhere. The person’s municipality of residence shoulders the extra costs connected to the out-of-town referral. The municipality also evaluates the person’s application for referral.

Ervin Kohn, head of the Jewish Community in Oslo, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the extra costs are “insignificant” and Skien’s refusal to pay “stems not from hostility to Jews but ignorance. It still causes pain.”

Last month, the community helped reverse another refusal by a district of Oslo that declined to refer a survivor to the city’s Jewish Senior Center.

The Jewish nursing home is adjacent to the main synagogue of Oslo and “set up to deal with residents’ traumas, which often resurface late in life,” Kohn said. “The food’s kosher and they celebrate Shabbat,” he added.

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