The world will never forget the heartbreak and devastation that was the Holocaust.
But for the 80,000 Holocaust survivors in the U.S. who live with the memories of this tragic event every day, they often feel more forgotten than remembered. That’s why John and Amy Israel Pregulman founded KAVOD!
In 2012, John, who is a professional photographer, was contacted by his friend, the director of the Holocaust Museum in Chicago, to take photographs of Holocaust survivors.
Over the course of three days, John photographed 65 people, and the process quickly changed his life. So his friend, the museum director, encouraged him to keep going and travel throughout the country capturing stunning portraits of survivors.
“Along the way as I would visit these people, I noticed they didn’t have a lot and were making choices between food, medicine, and clothing,” John said. “It bothered me.”
He soon discovered that over one-third of the Holocaust survivors in the U.S. live in poverty.
So, after he met his wife Amy while taking pictures in Memphis, the two of them founded KAVOD in November 2015.
A word meaning “dignity” in Hebrew, KAVOD was established “to help Holocaust Survivors in the U.S. live the remainder of their lives comfortably and with dignity.”
KAVOD works with organizations like the Jewish Family Service to provide these men and women with gift cards to pharmacies and local grocery stores whenever a need is submitted to them. All donations to KAVOD go directly to the survivors, and all requests are made confidentially.
In addition to the aid KAVOD provides, John continues to take portraits as a service to the survivors. This gives him a chance to sit with them and listen to their stories before providing them with their portraits and a letter.
“They want to know someone is going to remember them. Here is proof. Their biggest fear is that they will be forgotten,” John said.
The stories are as moving as they are heartbreaking. One man, a then 103-year-old living in Chicago, told John that he and his mother, who were both Russian, lived in a hole a caring neighbor made on his own land. That is how they survived.
“These particular people experienced something that no one can even fathom,” Amy said. “And now at this time in their life… they’re struggling just to get their groceries or their medicine.”
The Holocaust claimed the lives of 6 million Jewish people, but there is still time to honor and support the 80,000 survivors that remain here in the U.S.
“That’s why we’re doing this work,” Amy said. “And that’s why we’re asking you to care and for you to know that this is happening. And we have just a few more years with these people, to be a witness to their stories, to be here for them — and to help them.”
Learn more about KAVOD and hear personal stories from survivors in the video below. If you’d like to learn more or lend your support, visit their website, and don’t forget to share this story.
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