JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israel’s Cabinet increased the amount of money available for services for Holocaust survivors.
Tuesday’s decision, on the eve of Yom Hashoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, raises the budget for the basket of services for Holocaust survivors to about $60 million for 2012.
The Cabinet also decided that more than 8,500 Holocaust survivors will receive a more than $150 supplement to their monthly support payments, which run from about $530 to $1,860.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the recommendations for the increase with the support of Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, Deputy Minister for Senior Citizen Affairs Leah Nass and Knesset Finance Committee Chairman Moshe Gafni.
Referring to the increases, as well as updates on two projects to memorialize the experiences of Holocaust survivors, Netanyahu said at the meeting, "Time is urgent and the survivors are, to our sorrow, leaving our world. We want to remember those who perished, the 6 million brothers and sisters, and heed the lessons of the Holocaust in order to ensure the future of our people."
Nass said that approximately 200,000 Holocaust survivors are living in Israel, including some 70,000 who lived in concentration camps and ghettos.
"Until recently, many of them had not even tried to use their rights," Nass said. "In recent years we have succeeded in reaching 120,000 survivors, 50,000 of whom we went to their homes in order to help them utilize their rights and receive the government assistance to which they are due."
The budget for the Holocaust Survivors Rights Authority currently stands at about $772 million; it was $399 million in 2005. The authority is dealing with nearly 90,000 survivors, up from 51,000 in 2005.
During Tuesday’s meeting Netanyahu highlighted the Ledorot website that allows survivors to tell their story. He also spoke about Yad Vashem’s Gathering the Fragments project, which calls on survivors and their families to bring their Holocaust items to the museum to be part of the documentation of the Shoah. Some 50,000 such items have been collected in the past year, Netanyahu said.