Greek Jews, Holocaust Survivors Brace for More Turmoil

grecka flagaAmong those particularly hard hit are the poor and elderly members of the Jewish community, including many Holocaust survivors

For 55 needy Jewish families, a cash welfare payment is the only thing that gets them through the month. But when they came to the Athens Jewish Community last week for their July assistance, they were given only a portion of the payment in cash — the rest was in supermarket food coupons.”We just don’t have cash and we can’t get anymore, the banks are closed,” said Taly Mair, the community director who oversees the welfare program. „We hope to make the rest up to them later.”

Scenes of turmoil and uncertainty have played out across Greece over the past week with the country on the verge of bankruptcy after failing to make a payment to the International Monetary Fund. Banks have been shut, ATM withdrawals are limited to 60 euros (about $66) a day, and panicked citizens are stocking up on staples such as bottled water, pasta, lentils and baby formula.

Amid the economic crisis — and especially following the country’s overwhelming rejection in a referendum Sunday of the terms offered by Greece’s European creditors — the Greek Jewish community of about 5,000 is grappling with two main concerns: how to provide emergency assistance to Jews in need and how to ensure that the Jewish institutions can continue to function.

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