Monday July 31, 3:16 pm ET

LOS ANGELES, July 31 /PRNewswire/ — Bet Tzedek Legal Services announced today that over $2 million in reparations claims have been filed with the Hungarian government on behalf of more than 300 Holocaust survivors. The survivors submitted claims under a new program that allocates $1,800 for each family member lost in the Holocaust, and pays a stipend as compensation for forced labor.
To personally help each survivor, Bet Tzedek recruited and trained more than 300 volunteers in less than three weeks. An overwhelming demand from survivors seeking assistance with the application process resulted in Bet Tzedek’s Holocaust Reparations Project adding eight additional clinics beyond the two originally planned.
In addition to work supporting survivor applications locally, Mark Rothman, Bet Tzedek’s Holocaust Reparations Advocate, traveled to San Francisco and Cincinnati to train Jewish communal workers in those regions on the organization’s model, widely regarded as the best practice in the field. Bet Tzedek also conveyed the model via email and telephone to other Jewish communities throughout North America and as far as Sydney, Australia. Rothman also streamlined the applications process through successful negotiations with the Hungarian government.

“I am proud that Bet Tzedek was able to continue its fine tradition of serving Holocaust survivors by quickly adapting and expanding our program to meet the extraordinary demand,” said Bet Tzedek Executive Director Mitchell Kamin. “With 25 percent of all survivors living below the poverty line in Los Angeles, I am conscious that too many are desperate for financial assistance, and hopeful that their applications will be swiftly approved.”

Each survivor completed a detailed, 10-page application for each family member who perished. The applications were written in Hungarian, then translated into English, adding to the complexities faced by the elderly survivors.

“It is enormously gratifying to share our knowledge and vast experience in this subject,” Rothman said. “I look forward to continuing our fight on behalf of Holocaust survivors, who often face incredible struggles in living their daily lives.”

Founded in 1974, Bet Tzedek’s mission is to ensure “equal justice for all.” Bet Tzedek, “The House of Justice” in Hebrew, helps low-income, disabled and elderly residents of Los Angeles County. Annually, Bet Tzedek staff and volunteers assist more than 10,000 clients of all racial and religious backgrounds with critical legal needs.