Meir Panim‘s Holocaust Survivor Day Center in the Southern Israeli city of Dimona is more than just a place for these senior citizens to go to during the day. It is a community where staff and volunteers think about every element of the Survivors’ lives, in and outside of the program.
In 2018, Meir Panim staff and volunteers realized that their patrons had some needs that were not being met. As many people when they grow older, the survivors needed more help maintaining their appearances.
“We wanted to take care of them and help them feel great outside as well as inside,” says Mimi Rozmaryn, Director of Global Development at Meir Panim. “In 2019, we recruited professionals to come in and help care for them and we began offering beauty treatments, including haircuts and pedicures.”
Since then, every three months, local hairdressers volunteer their time to give the 40 Holocaust survivors who attend activities at the center a professional haircut and styling.
“We have understood that because of their mobility impairments or difficulty with scheduling, it is really amazing for them when we are able to bring professionals to our center,” says Rozmaryn. “It is another way for our center to be a second home for the Holocaust survivors and a resource for all the things they need to make their lives smoother and easier.”
The number of Holocaust survivors is dwindling rapidly. Around 165,000 Holocaust survivors live in Israel today – in 2021 according to the Holocaust Survivors’ Rights Authority, a government department, 15,000 died.
According to the Center of Organizations of Holocaust survivors in Israel, one-third of the survivors in the country live in poverty.
At the Dimona facility, Meir Panim serves breakfast and lunch every day. In addition, the patrons are given a prepared dinner to take home. The nonprofit also runs activities and events to meet the survivors’ emotional needs, as well as their physical ones.
After the haircut everyone feels great and excited, Rozmaryn says.
“Part of the work we do with these Holocaust survivors is getting to know them in order to understand their needs and helping improve their lives,” Rozmaryn adds.