A Disappearing Demographic

This holiday season, remember our Holocaust survivors and World War II veterans.

By Leah Felderman  

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As we approach the full swing of the 2017 holiday season it is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season. We are keenly aware that there are those less fortunate and we readily drop coins in a kettle and write a tax-deductible donation check to our favorite charitable organizations. We participate in any number of food drives, clothing drives, toys for tots, and support for homeless pets and vets.

This year, those of the Jewish faith will celebrate Hanukkah of 5778 (by the Jewish calendar). At last count there were approximately 100,000 Holocaust survivors in the United States, with about half living in the New York metro area. Many holocaust survivors are approaching their late 80s, some already well into their 90s. In a decade or so from now there won't be any holocaust survivors left. A demographic disappeared. While many survivors don't want to chat about their war camp experiences we are all keenly aware of their place in history. Showing a little extra kindness this Hanukkah to any elder is an appropriate mitzvah for all seasons. We are especially grateful for any additional time with those that have lived through such tumultuous times and outlived so many of their contemporaries.

Another dwindling segment of the population are World War II veterans. Although quite a different demographic from the Jewish Holocaust survivor, these two aging populations are indelibly linked through history. It is believed that there are approximately 500,000 WW2 veterans living in the United States. Sadly, many elderly live in poverty (approximately 10% nationwide) but poverty disproportionately affect certain populations, such as the Holocaust survivors and war veterans. Just some "food for thought" as we choose our many targets of goodwill and charity this holiday season. In addition to our seasonal (and hopefully yearlong) goodwill endeavors remember, this year 2017/5778 we have the opportunity to light a menorah candle with and sing a Christmas carol with living history. 'Tis the season!

Leah Felderman BA MA

About the Author

Leah Felderman is a proud alumnus of University of Central Florida (BA) and San Diego State University (MA). She has worn many occupational hats including teaching, hospitality management, government contractor and non-profit organizer. She is an intrepid international traveler having visited over 60 countries before happily settling down into her new life chapter of domesticity as a mom and Coast Guard wife.

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