Clarification Needed

Addressing the quote from Anat Bar-Cohen’s Jan. 15 testimony before the Senate Special Committee on Aging that stated that the Jewish Social Service Agency in the Washington metropolitan area “has experienced a 15 percent budget cut for each of the past four years from the Claims Conference and other sources” (“Budget Cuts Impede Survivor Services,” Jan. 24), it is important to note that it was excerpted from a much larger, more detailed presentation.

That testimony did speak to — on a more global scale — actions that have been taken in the last couple of years to address JSSA’s ability to serve the ever-increasing number of frail and financially at-risk survivors in our community. Despite the increases in funding for home-care services from the Claims Conference for the past four years, JSSA experienced a serious funding crisis two years ago. Since then, we have partnered with the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington to create a joint community fund — the UJEF Holocaust Survivor Communal Fund — solely dedicated to supporting safety-net services for needy Holocaust survivors and have, to date, raised more than $2 million.

That said, both sources of funding are still not sufficient to address the full and wide-ranging critical safety-net service needs of the more than 200 survivors JSSA serves annually. For instance, while funding allows us to provide 25 hours a week of in-home care for survivors, this does not cover the needs of many who require care seven days a week. As yet, no stable and adequate approach exists to address the comprehensive needs of those survivors who, as they age, become more frail, confront more health issues, in many cases struggle financially and are desperately trying to remain in their own homes in the community.

Tal Widdes
Chief Operating Officer
Jewish Social Service Agency

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