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Jewish state home to 165,000 Holocaust survivors, as country prepares to commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day

Nearly eight decades since the end of the World War II, the Jewish people have yet to return to their pre-Holocaust population

Relatives and friends of Holocaust survivors place flowers on names of concentration camps seen on the floor of the Hall of Remembrance at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, on Holocaust Remembrance Day, Apr. 8, 2021. (Photo: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The Jewish state is home to approximately 165,000 Holocaust survivors, according to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS). The fresh statistics were released ahead of Israel’s annual Holocaust Remembrance Day which begins on Wednesday evening.

The number of Israeli Holocaust survivors has been shrinking rapidly due to their advanced age and frail health, with some 14% of survivors having died since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic a little over two years ago. For comparison, there were 192,000 Holocaust survivors living in Israel in 2020, and only 180,000 in 2021.

With the progressive aging of Holocaust survivors, the challenges they face are significant. The average age of a survivor in Israel is 85 years old, according to Ety Farhi, CEO of the Foundation for the Welfare of Holocaust Victims.

"This means they do not have many more years to live. The traumas of the Holocaust were compounded by the coronavirus pandemic, which along with their advanced years, has added to their sense of loneliness and has brought on a deterioration in their physical and cognitive health," said Farhi.

Israeli officials believe that some 7,500 Holocaust survivors in Israel have no family and face daily socio-economic struggles in their lives. However, Farhi’s organization believes the true number is likely much higher.

"Government ministries are doing their best to accommodate the needs of the survivors, but many do not have the time to wait for bureaucracy to work for them. They need help now. We require the resources to deal with the problems, which prevent them from a life with dignity," stated Farhi.

On Monday, Israeli President Isaac Herzog and First Lady Michal Herzog hosted Holocaust survivor Ines Nissim at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem. Nissim who lives in Tel Aviv, hails from the Greek city Thessaloniki, which used to have a large and established Jewish community prior to the Holocaust.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog and First Lady Michal Herzog host a special Zikaron BaSalon (“Remembrance in the Living Room”) event at the President’s Residence, Apr. 25, 2022 (Photo: GPO)

Herzog welcomed Nissim and praised the once thriving Greek Jewish community.

“The Jews of Thessaloniki formed a huge, glorious, and incredible community. We are talking about the Jews of Thessaloniki today because the Holocaust destroyed almost the entire community, some 97% of it. In recent days, we have been meeting Holocaust survivors your age, Ines, and older ones, incredible and impressive people,” Herzog said.

Yad Vashem, Israel’s national Holocaust memorial will also mark Holocaust Remembrance Day. A delegation of Evangelical business and media leaders, led by ALL ISRAEL NEWS Founder and Editor-in-Chief Joel Rosenberg, will attend the official ceremony at Yad Vashem on Wednesday evening.

Around six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, representing approximately one-third of the Jewish people at the time. Now, 77 years since the end of World War II, the Jewish people have yet to return to their pre-Holocaust numbers.

In 1939, the number of Jews worldwide was reportedly 16.6 million. By the end of 2020, the Jewish worldwide population reached approximately 15.2 million, approximately 1.4 million Jews less than before the Holocaust.

The geographic distribution of the Jewish people has also changed dramatically since the end of the Holocaust. In 1948, when the State of Israel was established, only about 6% of the world’s Jews lived in the Jewish state. Today, Israel is home to 6.9 million Jews – the world’s largest Jewish community – representing around 45% of the total Jewish population.

The United States is home to the second largest Jewish community, numbering some 6 million. France has the third largest Jewish community, with approximately 445,000 people.

Prior to the Holocaust, almost 60% of world Jewry lived in Europe. Today, less than 10% of the world’s Jewish population are living in Europe.

Because of its growing, and relatively younger, population – compared to the aging and declining Jewish diaspora, Israel is expected to become home to more than 50% of the Jewish people over the next decade.

Read more: HOLOCAUST DAY

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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