Vaccine coordinator Rina Cohen
Feb 15, 2021
Bensonhurst Pop-Up vaccinates 330 Holocaust survivors
'Besides a true lifeline, what mattered is that we felt that someone cares whether we live or die. That someone still needs us'
More than 300 Holocaust survivors and World War II vets were able to sleep a little easier this weekend: With the collaboration of the Edith and Carl Marks Jewish Community House of Bensonhurst (locally known as “the J”), the UJA-Federation of New York and the occupational care provider Mobile Health, 330 Holocaust survivors and World War II veterans were able to receive a first dose of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine Thursday.
The pop-up site provided much needed convenience for seniors, who have been struggling with the city’s convoluted vaccine rollout. One 98-year-old anonymous survivor told Gothamist she was unable to find an appointment anywhere prior to the J. She even went so far as to avoid medical visits during the pandemic. The J was also able to supply interpreters for the patients, many of whom speak only Russian.
Alex Budnitsky, the executive director of the J, called Thursday’s pop-up an “enormous victory” while adding that “we just want to make sure that [the survivors] have a priority because of what they went through.”
Mayor Bill De Blasio announced on the same day his intention to vaccinate more survivors, promising to partner with “a number of of organizations in the Jewish community,” while nothing that “the presence of Holocaust survivors in our city is a reminder of just how recently that history took place, and we’ve got to be there for these people.”
In a Facebook post, the J cited a chilling quote from a survivor who remarked “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.”
Councilmember Mark Treyger, who represents Bensonhurst and is the sole Russian speaking city councilmember, sought to build on the success of Thursday’s vaccination site by introducing a bill that would require New York City’s Department of Health to devise a plan to vaccinate immobilized seniors at home within 30 days of its passing.
The resilience of the survivors, who have not only been subject to some of the greatest horrors in modern history, but have also been some of the most vulnerable during the pandemic is nothing short of inspiring: ”During the war, you were able to hide somewhere. But now, there is nowhere to hide so the virus catches you wherever you are,” Svetlana Danilova, whose family fled Nazi Germany, told Gothamist.
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