La'ad volunteer Elad AvlagonThe Jewish Agency for Israel ©, Zuzana Janku

“This project is more than just about their rights—it is a valuable lesson in friendship and life.”

"I grew up hearing about the fragile situation of Holocaust survivors in Israel. When I was 21, I decided that I wanted to do something for the generation that founded my country. I began to volunteer for the La’ad project, a joint effort of The Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Senior Citizens. 
 
When I started volunteering with La’ad, I worked with only one survivor. But I felt that time was pressing and I wanted to help as many people as possible. In the three years since, I've volunteered with 50 Holocaust survivors. I feel that this project is about more than just realizing survivors’ rights. It is also a valuable lesson in friendship and in life. 
 
I believe that my volunteering has improved many Holocaust survivors' lives—and my own life changed as well. La'ad enabled me to open up to people and to gain their trust. It has also inspired me to study social work, which I began this fall in Tel-Aviv."
 
Elad Avlagon, from Israel, La'ad: Volunteers Assisting Holocaust Survivors

 

Q&A

Working with Holocaust survivors is a sensitive issue, did you receive any training?

Once I'd signed up, I underwent a three-stage training process for interactions with the elderly survivors.

What else did the training entail?

Among other skills, I learned how to help them fill out the paperwork for the financial rights to which they are entitled, and how to document their stories.

"Time is pressing."

Two neighbors, F- and N- both survived the horrors of the Holocaust in Romania. F- remembers how the Germans marched in to her Romanian town when she was 14 and forced her to dig graves and clean horse stalls for the Nazis. I participated with F- in the project L’Dorot – "for Generations" helping document her life story so that it will be remembered for years to come. Like many survivors, N- was unaware that she was entitled to financial compensation for her experiences. I helped her write to the Ministry of Finance so she could receive the monthly reparations to which she is entitled according to Israel’s agreement with Germany. F- and N- became like family to me. I even Skyped with N- when I took a long trip India recently. And when I got back, she came over to my family for Shabbat dinner.

La'ad volunteer Elad AvlagonElad Avlagon, La'ad Volunteer