New York State
Insurance Department


ISSUED 6/2/2003

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NEW YORK HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS TO RECEIVE $1.1 MILLION IN HOMECARE ASSISTANCE FROM THE INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION ON HOLOCAUST-ERA INSURANCE CLAIMS

Funds to Care for Elderly Holocaust Survivors

        Superintendent of Insurance Gregory V. Serio today announced that New York Holocaust survivors will benefit from an initial payment of $1.1 million being allocated to four social service agencies that provide assistance to elderly, needy Jewish victims of Nazi persecution. The International Commission on Holocaust-Era Insurance Claims (ICHEIC) is distributing these funds immediately as part of $132 million in humanitarian funds to be distributed over ten years received from European insurance companies for the benefit of needy Holocaust survivors.

        "This is great news and one more step forward in securing justice for Holocaust survivors and their heirs. These funds will assist needy survivors and provide for their social service needs," said Serio.

        "This is just one part of our on-going effort to seek justice for Holocaust survivors and their heirs. In 1997, under Governor Pataki’s leadership, New York State set up the New York Holocaust Claims Processing Office--the first of its kind in the nation-- to assist Holocaust survivors and their heirs in resolving insurance, banking, and art claims from the Holocaust-era. The Insurance Department has been working closely with ICHEIC to ensure that Holocaust survivors receive payments for unpaid Holocaust-era insurance policies," said Serio. "I am proud of our state’s commitment and hope through continued efforts we can continue to resolve even more legitimate claims and obtain some degree of justice for those who have suffered so much."

        "ICHEIC was founded to help partially correct the historic wrong of unpaid insurance policies to victims of the Holocaust and their families. The distribution of these humanitarian funds to assist needy survivors shows that the need to obtain the funds while there is still the opportunity to care for survivors is imperative," said ICHEIC Chairman Lawrence Eagleburger.

        The New York agencies receiving the funds are Selfhelp Community Services, Bikur Cholim of Boro Park, Jewish Community Council of Greater Coney Island, and Pesach Tikvah.

        "Many Holocaust survivors are becoming more vulnerable as they grow older and have social service needs that are increasing. Because ICHEIC obtained these long-overdue funds, survivors will now receive more of the care and assistance they deserve," said Roman Kent, Chairman of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors.

        "Working in conjunction with ICHEIC and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), the Department has worked steadfastly to ensure that elderly Holocaust survivors will receive much-needed assistance with homecare, an increasingly pressing need among Holocaust survivors. We are pleased to be part of this historic effort," said Gregory V. Serio, New York Superintendent of Insurance and chair of the NAIC International Holocaust Commission Task Force.

        Much of the money will be used primarily to provide homecare, an increasingly pressing need among Holocaust survivors. Many victims of Nazi persecution are without the resources to provide for such care. Nursing homes, a traditional option for many elderly, are often not a desirable option for Holocaust survivors, for whom life in an institution with rules and regulations may be particularly traumatic.

        Homecare includes a range of services that enable elderly New Yorkers to remain living in their own homes, from housekeeping and help with daily tasks of living to skilled nursing and home modifications for disabled residents. Auxiliary services include food packages and hot meals as well as assistance with medical equipment and purchasing medication.

        For Jewish victims of Nazi persecution whose families may have moved away, or who live in countries with little or no government provision of services, such care can enable these elderly individuals to remain independent in their homes and adds a measure of dignity to their lives.

        $132 million is being allocated over ten years, with $15 million disbursed in 2003. Of that $15 million, $2.4 million will be distributed in the U.S., including the New York grants. More funds will be allocated around the world, including in New York, each year for the next decade.

        ICHEIC has asked the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) to implement initial distribution of the funds. For more information, see www.icheic.org.


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