Like many Holocaust survivors living in Israel, 80-year-old Eli Einat lives alone and receives a meager monthly stipend from the state, which is only barely enough to buy him food.
Despite the poverty and the never-ending hunger pangs, the most difficult part of Eli’s day-to-day experience is the crippling loneliness and fear of being forgotten.
Eli doesn’t have any children, and while he does have siblings, the times they get to meet are few and far between.
“I know how to keep myself busy. I paint, I write, I’m never bored, and yet the loneliness is suffocating and that is the hardest part,” says Eli. “My weekends are horrible due to the loneliness. No one knows how I’m doing. One day I’ll perish without anybody knowing, until the neighbors smell what's left of me and break down the door.”
Eli spent many years in London, where he endured endless hardships until he was finally able to truly fulfill himself and make a living as an aspiring artist and poet.
“Living in London was not easy, I would collect fruits and vegetables in the rain just so I’d have something to eat. After a while, I found a job at a hotel. That eventually enabled me to develop myself as an artist,” Einat recalls. “I eventually returned to Israel because I missed it. Now, I’m disappointed with my life here, though.”
According to Einat, when he made his way back to Israel some 20 years ago, he tried to find a job as an art teacher, but to no avail.
“I went to the Employment Service once a week, then once a month until they told me I was too old to work and so I shouldn’t come back anymore. Suddenly, I saw myself as a lonely, jobless old man despite working and creating in London,” Einat said with teary eyes.
"I do not have a pension, I receive a stipend from the UK and another small stipend from Israel. All this barely amounts to NIS 3,000 (930$) a month. It is very difficult for me to make ends meet. I buy very little food, I do not buy what I love, and on top of that, I am lonely,” Einat said. “In the UK, the old-age pension increases every year, but not here. Our lives are becoming more and more expensive, but the old-age pension stays the same.”
Eli was born in Iraq’s capital, Baghdad, and is recognized as a Holocaust survivor by the state as he survived the Farhud pogroms the local population committed against the local Jewry.
“I remember as a child how the whole Jewish community would gather around the radio to listen to what was going on in Europe. I remember the tears in my parent and my brother's eyes,” Eli recalls with shaking hands.
“The pogroms in Baghdad at the time were terrible. I remember mobs entering the city's Jewish neighborhoods, my family barricading the doors and doors with heavy furniture so the mob would not enter the house. Eventually, they still managed to get in, while many of them carried knives and clubs. We eventually had to go underground."
Eventually, Eli made his way to Israel in 1951, hoping to start a new, better life for himself after the horrors he went through as a child. He then moved to London before returning to Israel in 2001.
Eli is one out of thousands of Holocaust survivors requiring aid. To volunteer or donate, visit the Holocaust Survivors' Welfare Foundation's website or call 03-6090866.