A Living Legacy
This week, we observed Yom HaShoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day, a time to commemorate the approximately six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust. Imagine having your family and childhood destroyed by the Nazis, only to be tormented by the crushing burden of poverty in old age. This is unfortunately the reality for many survivors worldwide, with one in four of the 140,000 Holocaust survivors in the U.S. living at or below the poverty line.
There are inspiring opportunities for pro bono lawyers to get involved and help survivors with their legal needs. One pioneering example is Bet Tzedek’s Holocaust Survivors Justice Network (HSJN), which operates in more than 30 cities across the country and partners pro bono attorneys with Jewish social service providers to provide free legal assistance to eligible survivors seeking reparations. More than 100 law firms and in-house legal departments have joined the effort. HSJN has expanded the scope of its work recently to help survivors with Advance Life Planning. Pro bono attorneys prepare simple wills, health care directives, and other legal documents, as well as offer assistance with SSI and other matters. Low-income survivors’ needs are urgent and there is a limited window to do this work.
At this time of reflection and remembrance, let’s honor the memory of those who perished by providing pro bono legal services to those who survived so they may live their remaining years with dignity.