“Understanding makes the wise man stronger than ten rulers in a city.” (Ecclesiastes, 7:19)
Izzy Arbeiter understands.
After a quarter century with Jewish Family & Children’s Service, Izzy Arbeiter, the founder of our Holocaust Services program, is retiring. Izzy is stepping down as chair of the Schechter Holocaust Services Advisory Committee to become the program’s very first chair emeritus. In recognition of Izzy’s decades of transformative work helping survivors live their lives with dignity, the Schechter Holocaust Services team has put together this reflection on Izzy’s legacy here at JF&CS.
Building a Safe Place for Survivors
In 1993, Izzy and Ellen Fishman started the Hakalah program at JF&CS, which is now known as Schechter Holocaust Services. Izzy had the forethought to solicit The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany for funding to help survivors in the Greater Boston area. A Holocaust survivor himself, Izzy was keenly aware that other survivors would need financial and home care assistance as they age. He knew that survivors needed a safe place to go to ask for assistance, a place they could trust.
Asking for help is not an easy task, especially for survivors, but Izzy made our Holocaust services program incredibly welcoming. Izzy’s courage has been a beacon of hope, and he has facilitated the trust of many a survivor who needed his help to feel safe. His comforting presence allowed our clients to overcome their fear of what might happen, to feel comfortable giving personal information to “strangers,” and to get the assistance from Schechter Holocaust Services that they need.
Izzy has been a tireless champion for Schechter Holocaust Services, fostering the program’s growth and longevity. He has advocated to help ensure that JF&CS has enough funds from the Claims Conference in New York to care for our growing client base. Izzy has also spent time educating the Claims Conference and other funders to help them understand the needs of this community. Driven by a relentless energy, each new mission for Schechter Holocaust Services was met with Izzy’s favorite mantra, “We need to do it NOW.”
A Stronger Man
Every member of the staff of Schechter Holocaust Services has been in awe of Izzy since the first day each of us met him. Izzy is gracious, warm, charismatic, strong, articulate and persistent. He will not back down. We would not be sitting here today as such a well-established Holocaust services program if he had.
Izzy has been an invaluable resource and source of inspiration to all those who have been fortunate enough to cross paths with him. We have been inspired by his vision and passion to speak out against bullying and by the stories he has generously shared of his losses and survival during the Holocaust.
As Izzy transitions to his new role as chair emeritus, we want to say, “Thank you, Izzy Arbeiter, for being the stronger man.” Because of you, we will make sure that survivors continue to live with dignity and that their voices will never be forgotten. Izzy Arbeiter understands.
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