JFS Receives Grants To Provide Specialized Holocaust Survivor Care


Staff report

It could be a loud sound, a doctor in a white lab coat or waiting in line that triggers a Holocaust survivor to have a flashback.

And with a large population of Holocaust survivors in the South Palm Beach County area, Jewish Family Services is serving about 1,000 Holocaust survivors annually.

And as Holocaust survivors age, Victoria Petruzzo, director of grants management for JFS, said studies show their memories and emotions from the Holocaust resurface and they become less resilient and more dependent on others.

Thanks to a grant from the Jewish Federations of North America’s Center for Advancing Holocaust Survivor Care, JFS can continue to help provide specialized services to survivors.

JFS’ Holocaust Survivor Assistance Program helps provide for the needs of Holocaust Survivors through personalized case management and care coordination. JFS assists with linkages to socialization programs, transportation services and other services necessary to maintain a safe home environment. JFS has assisted hundreds of survivors with Holocaust reparations and obtaining subsidized home health care, cleaning services and emergency grants through Claims Conference Funds.

“Survivors are getting older and more of them are coming to us for help,” Petruzzo said. “They need more medical attention, more social services, more health services.”

Avital Meirzon is the Holocaust Survivor Person Centered Trauma Informed Care Program Director for JFS. She works with both survivors and those providing care to survivors.

Meirzon said there is a training called Person-Centered, Trauma-Informed (PCTI) care for professionals like doctors and lawyers who work with Holocaust survivors. The training helps the professionals understand how to build a relationship with a survivor and understand some potential triggers.

She also provides one-on-one training with survivors to help them understand and manage their trauma. In addition to English, staff members speak Hebrew and Russian.

The most recent grant JFS received is from the Jewish Federations of North America’s Center for Advancing Holocaust Survivor Care. When combined with matching funds, this award will enable $120,000 in new programming for survivors. In addition, JFS staff will receive intensive training on Person-Centered, Trauma-Informed (PCTI) care.

In addition to the current services provided, Meirzon has launched a new program that helps with creative expression and community engagement. Survivors participate in art, music, writing once a week.

If anyone wants PCTI care training or knows a Holocaust survivor who can benefit from the services provided, contact JFS.