November 22, 2006
Many aging Shoah survivors are living a new nightmare
(Page 4 - Previous Page)With no money to pay for such a move, Sara Zucker called the Jewish Federation of Palm Springs & Desert Area and Jewish Family Service of Palm Springs for help. Both agencies turned down her request.
"Even for residents of Palm Spring, we don't have any sort of relocation programs," Palm Springs Federation Executive Director Alan Klugman said. "I wish we were able to have that type of program, but unfortunately we don't."
Sara Zucker recently called Jewish Family Services of the Inland Communities and helped her mother secure a one-time grant of $250. Despite this help, Sara Zucker said, "we might be stuck here with no way out."
Bella Zucker, a solider of Zion, devout Jew and survivor, said she feels totally abandoned by the community.
"They don't help me," she said, her hand resting on the belt that prevents her from falling out of her wheelchair. "I need help."
As bad as her situation is, Bella Zucker said she thanks God for her two devoted offspring. "I don't know what would happen if they couldn't take care of me."
Life is even more dire for Moscovitz, the shut-in survivor who's mired in debt and health problems.
With the exception of a couple of friends, whom he rarely sees, and his caretaker, he has nobody and next to nothing. He recently hawked a battered wood dresser for $25. Moscovitz said he had counted on receiving some money from the Claims Conference, but that the organization denied his request for reasons still unclear to him.
Born in Jassy, Romania, the same town as Bella Zucker, he and his brother, Ado, fled their small apartment just before the Nazis arrived. Moscovitz's parents weren't so fortunate. His father died on a train en route to a camp. His mother survived the war but died little more than a decade later in 1956.
Moscovitz and his brother -- who died long ago -- spent much of the war huddled in an underground bunker with five other children in the Romanian countryside. They subsisted largely on produce stolen from local farmers. On several occasions, Moscovitz could see the boots of nearby German soldiers from his hiding place. After the war, Moscovitz made his way to Israel. He fought in the War of Independence and later suffered a stomach wound during the Suez Crisis of 1956. During his years in Israel, he worked as a glassmaker, his father's profession in Romania. When Moscovitz came to the United States in 1967 to visit a friend, he liked Southern California so much he decided to stay.
In the beginning, Moscovitz eked out a living working for a manufacturer of glassworks, before striking out on his own. Making one-of-a-kind glass artworks, including ornate tables and mirrors, he earned $50,000 to $60,000 annually -- a good living. One year, Moscovitz said, he took home $200,000. There were European vacations, houses and nice cars.
He lost it all about 15 years ago, when his health failed, around the same time his wife died. With medical bills mounting and no health insurance, Moscovitz burned through his savings. A malpractice judgment for a botched surgery helped stave off ruin for awhile, but the $30,000 he received, after lawyer's fees, exhausted itself.
Today, he lives on the edge of an emotional, physical and financial abyss.
"I don't matter to nobody. I don't bring nothing to nobody," Moscovitz said. "I don't care if I die. If I die, I will dance on my grave with pleasure."
How to Help
For more information on how to make contributions to help local Holocaust survivors, please call:
Bet Tzedek: Contact Matt Scelza at 323-549-5813, or e-mail email@example.com.
Jewish Family Service: Contact Susie Forer-Dehrey, JFS associate executive director at 323-761-8800, or send a donation to JFS/Holocaust Survivor Services, 6505 Wilshire Blvd., Ste 500, Los Angeles, CA 90048
Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles: (323) 761-8200