As Holocaust Remembrance Day 2016 draws near, a haunting video launched by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews calls on Israelis to change the way they remember the victims, asking them to give charity for elderly survivors living in poverty in Israel.
It’s the first time the primarily Christian-funded organization has turned to Israelis to open their wallets, said a spokeswoman for the fellowship.
“The expectation is less about the amount given than the awareness,” she said. “The Holocaust is always about remembering, but we’re saying remember the survivors. We do home visits and we really see what’s going on in some survivors’ homes. We wanted to reframe Holocaust Remembrance Day.”
The fundraising campaign aims to raise money for the 45,000 survivors living below the poverty line in Israel.
According to Fellowship founder Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, there are an estimated 189,000 survivors in Israel, which is one-third of all remaining survivors worldwide, with some 70,000 living in the former Soviet Union.
While Israeli Holocaust survivors receive some government subsidies, one quarter of them reported being unable to afford sufficient medicine, medical care, food or home heating fuel for the winter, reported the Fellowship.
As of Tuesday morning, NIS 32,000 had been raised, said the Fellowship spokesperson.
The campaign, which was launched on television and radio stations Sunday, was initiated by Israeli actress and comedian Maya Dagan, a third-generation Holocaust survivor.
Dagan utilized familiar Israeli cultural icons — soloist Uziya Zadok, the 13-year-old winner of Channel 2’s second season of reality show “Beit Sefer L’Musica” (“School of Music”) singing Yehuda Poliker’s achingly sorrowful “When You Grow Up” with the Amcha Tel Aviv choir, made up of Holocaust survivors — to tug on Israelis’ heartstrings.
“When You Grow Up” describes the experience of children born to Holocaust survivors, with lyrics by songwriter Ya’akov Gilad set to music composed by Poliker. Both Gilad and Poliker are the sons of survivors.
The song was one of eight Holocaust-related works on Poliker’s 12-song album, “Ashes and Dust,” released in 1988, and was considered a tremendously influential work for both artists.