Elderly Holocaust Survivor in Tel Aviv Found Living in Squalid Conditions
An elderly 82 year old Holocaust survivor was found by an army officer living in horrible conditions in a warehouse in Tel-Aviv, eating only liquids and living alone in hardship, Israel’s Channel 2 reported.
According to N., the army officer, she and a colleague found the aging survivor “waiting on a bench outside of his house. We asked him if we could go in his house and sit in the living room. I then discovered that the man was not actually sitting on a bench outside of his home, because to call the place where he lives a ‘home’ is a crime! It was a two-story warehouse, crammed with junk, and which could not be entered.”
The officer said the floor on which the man lives is full of dust and cobwebs, and no light can enter it. “On the second floor, there is no lighting, so he can only go up to it during the day, and at night,” because it’s too dark for him to find the bathroom, “he goes to the toilet on himself.”
The man was also being treated by a therapist on a daily basis.
The “apartment” also had many flights of stairs, which the man found difficult to climb. “We discovered that in order to enter the ‘bedroom’ – which is actually a warehouse in and of itself – he needs to make his way through a narrow corridor, with many objects strewn around him. Every day, he goes step by step, slowly, so he can even sleep.”
“When he wants to sleep, he has to climb a flight of improvised stairs, and he risks falling off of them, because his bed is actually in a raised gallery,” said N. “It’s only a matter of time before he falls. The steps are piled up with old clothes and equipment, and lots of other ‘junk’ and scrap, which makes access to the bed practically impossible.”
N. added that she and her colleague made sure to clean up the stairs for him, because they were sure that otherwise he would be sleeping in his car, or a wooden bed that was tossed out in the street, “to avoid going up the stairs and the danger it posed to him.”
The officers also discovered that the old man’s “house” lacked a kitchen, so he eats in a soup kitchen instead. But, because he lacks lower teeth, he can only eat soup. N. and her colleague took him to the restaurant, “Gabai’s Falafel” on Bugrashov Street in Tel-Aviv, which gave the survivor free food.
The officers expressed their anger at the State for neglecting the man, saying that State bureaucracy prevented the survivor from receiving immediate aid, but demanded that he fill out more forms, leading to more delays. “This is an 82 year old man, and an amputee!” said N., who requested crutches for the man from the “Yad Sarah” organization.
The two officers also discovered that the man’s dwelling was facing foreclosure, because of the debts he owes, and “the mess he continues to build up on a daily basis was meant to keep the repo men away, he claims.”
The survivor told the officers that his family lives in the United States, but his children are apparently unaware of their father’s difficult situation. He said that he has no desire to move to them, since he did not want to go back to a country where he was called a “stinking Jew” and emphasized that “it’s good for him in Israel.” Despite his positive words about the country, the second officer said that, “I never believed that in the State of Israel a situation like this could exist, until today.”
When Channel 2 contacted the Welfare Ministry about the man’s condition, they received no response, and instead were referred to the Tel-Aviv municipality, which told them that the man’s case was being handled by the Department of Social Services. However, they noted that though the Department reaches out to him with many services, he only responds positively to some of them.
“The proposed aid that was offered to him, beyond monthly monetary allowances given by social security, included among other things: legal advice, assistance to clean his apartment, and hours for nursing care,” which would include help with medical treatment and visits to the doctor, as well as purchasing medicine. The Department also noted that the “Social Services Administration is working through the municipality’s welfare department to assist, promote and fulfill the rights of all of the elderly in the community, particularly Holocaust survivors.”