AMCHA - what does it mean?
AMCHA, The code word that helped survivors identify fellow Jews in war-ravaged Europe, short for AMCHA YISRAEL, meaning the people of Israel, now stands for another kind of support system. Established in 1987 by a group of Holocaust survivors and devoted mental health professionals, AMCHA set out to create a framework for mutual aid, memory processing and grief resolution. Now, more than three decades later, AMCHA provides a full range of psychological and social support services to Holocaust survivors and their families. AMCHA continues to be a home and safe place for them to unburden their hearts and share their stories with others.
AMCHA- what do we do?
Amcha is the largest provider of mental health and social support services for Holocaust survivors in Israel, currently reaching close to 20,000 individuals. We offer the following main services: Mental Health Care, Psychosocial Rehabilitation Clubs, Community Outreach, Social Casework, Professional Interventions for Homebound Survivors, Home Visits by Volunteer trained and supervised by Amcha staff, Inter-generational Programming and Holocaust Documentation.
Amcha has earned a reputation in Israel and around the world for its professionalism, competence, and integrity. It has opened its doors to survivor communities all around Israel and has established state-of-the-art services. Our activities take place in fifteen centers throughout Israel, located from Nahariya in the north through Beer Sheba and Sderot in the south and in the homes of aging survivors with limited mobility. In 2017, over 350,000 professional activity hours took place throughout Amcha, including over 63,000 home visits by professionals serving the most vulnerable, homebound survivors who were unable to come to our centers for treatment. In addition to the over 600 devoted staff members – including clinical psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists and other therapists, 1,000 volunteers are involved in our work, augmenting our care. Along with the expertise of its professional staff, the dedication of its volunteers is endless.
AMCHA- why now?
Many of the nearly 200,000 Holocaust survivors living in Israel today were children during WW2- children who suffered sudden loss, abandonment, hunger, and persecution. After the war, they made every effort to rebuild their shattered lives, but not all succeeded. Many continue to struggle with their traumatic pasts.
Interestingly, while initial projections pointed to the expected decrease in the demand for our services, over the past years, the number of survivors turning to us continues to grow. In 2005 we served 8,500 individuals; in 2010 we served 13,450 individuals and now we are serving 20,000 individuals. This is explained by the fact that as the survivors' age and face additional challenges and losses, such as losing a spouse or losing physical or mental capacities, their needs' grow and their support network becomes more limited. These new challenges and losses are layered on challenges and losses from the Holocaust, including unresolved grief and other traumatic experiences. Security threats in Israel, as well as international terror attacks have also had devastating effects as they can easily trigger the survivor's wartime memories.
As the survivors face the last chapters of life, we make every effort to ensure their wellbeing, with dignity and respect, enable them to benefit from a rich program of activities they were denied in their youth, offer sincere recognition of their suffering, provide meaningful opportunities to share their legacy with younger generations and support their families.
Unfortunately, there is a very limited window of opportunity to reach out to survivors and provide them with much needed care and support. The average age of estimated 200,000 survivors living in Israel today is 86. While the child-survivors are in the 70s, there are many others in our care in their 90s,and even beyond 100, therefore we must act now!