A Disappearing Demographic

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

By Leah Felderman  
Updated: 02/01/2019  
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Elderly woman showing a picture from her childhood Photo by olly2 on Bigstock

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As we approach the full swing of the 2018 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 less fortunate children, and support for homeless pets and vets.

This year, those of the Jewish faith will celebrate Hanukkah of 5779 (by the Jewish calendar). The Jewish Federations of North America estimates that there are approximately 100,000 Holocaust survivors in the United States. Of these survivors, one in four are 85 or older, and one in four lives in poverty1. A few decades from now, there won’t be any holocaust survivors left; a demographic disappeared. While most survivors don't want to chat about their war camp experiences, we are all keenly aware of their places 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.

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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. The US Department of Veteran Affairs estimates there are 496,777 WW2 veterans living in the United States, with this number decreasing by approximately 348 souls daily.2

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 that this year 2018/5779 we have the opportunity to light a menorah candle with and sing a Christmas carol with living history. 'Tis the season!

Sources:

  1. “Helping Holocaust Survivors.” Jewish Federations of North America, www.jewishfederations.org/helping-holocaust-survivors. Accessed 26 November 2018.
  2. “WWII Veteran Statistics.” National WWII Museum, www.nationalww2museum.org/war/wwii-veteran-statistics. Accessed 15 November 2018.
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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