The Marks Jewish Community House in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn ensured that the most vulnerable among us had access to the COVID-19 vaccine this week.
The community center organized a special vaccine drive on February 10, aimed specifically at helping as many Holocaust survivors in the neighborhood get vaccinated as possible.
The organization shared news about the service on their Facebook page, calling it “Miracle on 79th Street.”
“It isn’t Chanukah time, but in the last 72 hours, Marks JCH staff has produced a miracle,” they wrote. “Over 300 Holocaust Survivors, Leningrad blockadnicks and WW2 veterans received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine today.”
They shared about how for weeks, their staff heard stories of how difficult it was for their elderly members (people 75+ have been eligible since Jan. 11) to get a COVID-19 vaccine…with disorganization for signing up, appointments continually filled, etc. “We have weekly funerals now,” one of the seniors old them. “By the end of this year – all of us will be dead. This whole generation.”
“These people have survived World War II by miracle and against all odds,” the organization explained. “Partisans, children of the blockade, ghetto and concentration camp survivors and soldiers in the Russian Army – most of their peers have not made it – but they did.
“And now, seven decades later, they found themselves isolated, locked at home, afraid to go to the local store or to see their grandchildren. Re-traumatized and terrified of the invisible virus – some thought they will never be able to leave their homes again.”
The Marks JCH joined forces with the UJA-Federation of New York and healthcare service company Mobile Health to create a “pop-up” vaccine drive. Within 72 hours they contacted over a thousand families in the area, to reach those most in need of the vaccine. Over 300 elderly members of the community attended and were vaccinated. For some, it was the first time leaving the house in months.
They shared this poignant quote from a 98-year-old survivor: “‘Besides a true lifeline, what mattered is that we felt that someone cares whether we live or die. That someone still needs us. Just that feeling gives many of us a motivation to live.”
The Kings Bay Y, (COJECO), the Shorefront Y, and the Shorefront Jewish Community Council all partnered with the JCH to help as well.
featured image source: Facebook / Marks JCH