Collecting on Yaakov’s calls
By Orly Vilnai HAARETZ

Surviving on nothing

Lazar Lachmanovitch, 91, is a Holocaust survivor from Hungary whose only source of income is a guaranteed-minimum-income welfare payment. Ava, his daughter, takes care of him and tries to help him make use of the financial rights for which he qualifies. About a year ago, she bought a washing machine for her father, and placed a claim for a sales tax refund, for survivors living solely on government stipends, with the Holocaust Survivors Welfare Fund (supported by the Claims Committee and the Israeli government).

She filled out all the forms, but the refund never arrived. Neither did repayment for reading glasses and medicine she had purchased for him. When she called to inquire, she was told that something called the Hungarian Fund, which was to return the sales tax, was out of money, but that the other expenses would be sent within a month’s time. Four months later not a shekel had come or was on the way.

At the same time, Lachmanovitch received an announcement that he qualified for NIS 300 worth of goods from the Meir Panim relief organization. Meir Panim, which runs soup kitchens, gets its budget from a government company for the return of property of those murdered in the Holocaust to assist survivors.

His daughter approached Meir Panim in order to register her father but was told that they would have to investigate whether or not he qualified. It took a few more weeks before a representative called and asked once again for his details. When he still did not receive an answer, Ava called again, only to be told that the project had been suspended.

She contacted us for help. Within two days the food project manager called and apologized, and a few days later an NIS 300 food card arrived.

As for the Hungarian grant, we were told that following a large number of requests, the fund is currently empty, but a new budget is expected soon.

About the refund of personal expenses, Ava was asked to fill out more forms. She did, in triplicate, and last week her father received the money in full.