A new Romanian government policy will grant about 15,000 Romanian Holocaust survivors, eligibility for pensions, as compensation to the Jews that were persecuted there during World War II.
After a long negotiation process between the Romanian government and the Holocaust Survivors Rights Authority, the Ministry for Social Equality, the foreign ministry, and the Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors in Israel, Romania will recognize official Israeli documentation as valid for receiving pensions from Romania's social services.
By law, Holocaust survivors who were, or still are, Romanian citizens and were persecuted because of their religion between the years 1940 and 1945, are eligible for pensions from the Romanian government, in addition to the sums they receive from Israel or other countries.
Until this new policy, Romania had not recognized Israel's official documentations as proof for eligibility for pensions and only excepted documents from its own local archives.
The agreement is set to be signed and granted legal validity within the next few days, setting the foundation for Romanian institutions to recognize about 15,000 Holocaust survivors in Israel, as eligible for additional pensions from the Romanian government.
The cumulative amount of financial support adds up to tens of thousands of shekels, and is dependents on the time each survivor spent on Romanian territory during the war. This policy will add between 1,000 to 2,500 NIS per month to the survivors' monthly allowance.
However, because Germany in November recognized it as an "open ghetto", the Bucharest ghetto will not be included in the new agreement.
Germany's decision granted retroactive social welfare to about 3,000 Holocaust survivors living in Israel, and about 2,000 widows and heirs. This includes over 1,200 Holocaust survivors who lived through the Bucharest ghetto that immigrated to Israel after October 1953, and up until now only received yearly grants.
Social Equality Minister Meirav Cohen, said this was a mission of urgency since Holocaust survivors do not have many years of life left. "We must do whatever we can in order to improve [the survivors'] economic state, enrich the services that are given to them and allow them to grow old with dignity," she said.
"In the last year we finalized deals with several countries in the world, which brought to an addition of hundreds of millions of shekels that will be passed to the the survivors' bank accounts," she said. We have also allocated NIS 300 million of the national budget to enlarge the pensions for the poorest among the Holocaust survivors," she added. "These steps lead to some of the Holocaust survivors' monthly income growing by thousands of shekels."
Director at the Holocaust Survivors' Rights Authority Avremi Torem, also praised the new agreement with Romania.
"The authority, which sets out to help survivors access the rights they deserve especially abroad, is happy and proud of the agreement with Romania. This is a significant step for Romania's recognition of documents signed by Israel and direct payment to the survivors, especially payments, which they had struggled to receive in the past."