Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul announced $2.6 million in funding provided by the FY 2023 Enacted Budget to support the Holocaust Survivors Initiative. This funding, to be administered by New York State Office for the Aging, will be used to increase access to health care related services, provided by community-based organizations for those who suffered in the Holocaust.
VIDEO of the event is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.
AUDIO of the event is available here.
PHOTOS of the event will be available on the Governor’s Flickr page.
A rush transcript of the Governor’s remarks is available below:
Good afternoon, everyone. I just had one of the most extraordinary experiences in my life. I had a chance to sit in a room and have a meaningful conversation with the most resilient, strongest, but compassionate women I’ve ever had a chance to encounter and those are Holocaust survivors sitting right here. We’ll be hearing from Eva shortly.
What they went through was not just life-changing for them, for many, they carry these memories and scars with them through life. But also, it was always at touchstone that when they had the challenges that came later as residents in a foreign land, the United States of America and settling in New York. No matter how complicated life got or challenges, they always could touch back and say, but look what I overcame. Look what I survived. Look what I endured. And because of those experiences, I will say there’s no one with as much heart, but as strength as these incredible women. So please stand up, our Holocaust survivors. Let’s give you a round of applause for the lessons you are teaching all of us, the lessons you teach us.
And Ellie, I love your enthusiasm, your passion for your work. And it’s all right to be the first woman, as long as we do such a good job that there’s always women after us, too. Right? That’s the responsibility we have to create those opportunities.
Avi Greenstein. I want to thank you for your leadership here as well at the Boro Park Jewish Council. And a friend I’ve had for many, many years and that is David Greenfield, who now is the CEO of the Met Council. He was always so welcoming and kind to me and I’ll never forget, way back eight years ago when I was running for lieutenant governor and people were like Kathy who? How do you say that last name? You introduced me to this warm and welcoming community, and I always felt that this is family to me as well. So thank you. I know Eric Goldstein will be joining us as well.
It’s great to be back in Borough Park, as I said to David I’m here a lot and to come to this particular week, Holocaust Remembrance. President Biden acknowledged that we should honor this the entire week. I say we honor it 365 days a year. This is not a one day, one week phenomenon, but we’ll take this week to pause and reflect on what that means.
And, you know, I actually went to a number of the camps, I was in Austria and Germany. It was part of a family outing to make sure that my children had a chance to be aware, be cognizant that in their own grandparents’ lifetime, the most horrific atrocities were committed against fellow human beings. I wanted them to know that this was not historical stories from 150 years, 200 years ago, middle ages. It happened and there’s people still alive who survived this. And that was important to me as a parent to teach my own children about what man is capable of doing to other men and women.
I’m fearful of what we see over occurring not far from there in Ukraine. I’ve been reaching out to a lot of the communities to support the Ukrainian Jews who are feeling under siege right now, and they need a place to go. They need a place to heal and recover. And I cannot think of a better place than the great state of New York, which has the largest Ukrainian population. We’re proud of that. But the Jewish community often feels under siege. They need the special, warmth and love that we believe only New York can offer. So I’ve extended the welcome, the resources, the conversations with the State Department saying, let us be first. And so that’ll continue the tradition of taking people away from the horrors of life and letting them come to New York and heal.
And you are examples of what that healing looks like to be able to come here to this Borough Park Y and to rekindle and start new friendships, have activities that are stimulating, to share your stories, to talk about Grandkids. Somebody might even have a hundred grandkids and great grand kids I heard from somebody.
I’m on the verge of having my first grandchild any day now. So I got a little catching up to do here, but a hundred grandchildren sounds magnificent. And as one of you said that is your revenge on Hitler because you just grew families, grew families, and said we still, not just survived we thrived and thrived.
We are here to recommit ourselves to supporting the survivors. And it is our duty, not just as New Yorkers, but as citizens of the world. And it’s something I take very seriously, but while I’m Governor and I hope to be Governor for a long time, God-willing, I want to make sure we have the resources to take care of you.
So I can say we should take care of people and help them thrive and do well, but we need to put money behind. And I’m here today to announce $2.6 million in funding for the Holocaust survivors initiative to 29 organizations that provide critical social services to our survivors.
So you don’t have to go wanting and the organizations of people that are so compassionate and dedicated to doing what we do right here will have the resources to make your lives even more enriched and to give you whatever service you need, but just to have opportunities in a safe, loving environment, something you were denied, many of you as children. I spoke to one of you and you felt like you’d been robbed of your childhood.
Well, we can be kids again. We can be in a place like this, a safe space where people would get, as I mentioned, shared experiences, know what you’ve been through, but also are part of the healing process.
That’s why I wanted to make sure that we have the money allocated for these purposes. And we know that New York is home to nearly 40,000 survivors, but how is it possible that 40% of them live in poverty. They live in poverty. They had the most challenging, horrific start in life as children, but as they grow older, don’t they deserve more than a life in poverty.
So we’re here to help them as well and support the programs that are lifting them out of poverty. So that’s what we’re going to continue to do.
Another area where I am deeply concerned, some of you spoke to me about this, what is going on in society today? Why has there been a dramatic increase in hate crimes, particularly antisemitism? What is going on? Do people not know the stories of what unchecked evil can result in?
That’s why here as Governor of New York, I will continue not just to call out these acts, but to protect people as well. To make sure they have the resource to have security lighting and facilities and all the technology they need to make sure that they are protected.
You know, where they worship, where they live, where they shop. We owe that to people. No one should have to live in fear. Fear can be debilitating. I don’t want people to be fearful in communities like Borough Park, or Crown Heights or someone taking the subway.
This is New York. This is New York. People deserve the freedom from fear. We have the Statue of Liberty standing in our Harbor, not New Jersey’s. That’s ours. We’ll have that fight any time. Yeah, that’s a symbol of freedom from want and fear. We welcome people. We still welcome them today, but while they’re here, we have to take care of them and make them not just feel safe, but be safe.
And that is what I’m committed to doing. To fight this battle. I grew up in a little bit of a tough place in the state of New York. My grandparents were very poor immigrants, fled rape poverty in Ireland and came here with nothing. And they built a life, grandpa working at a steel plant. My dad worked at a steel plant.
They lived in a trailer park, but life was good because they were free. They didn’t have oppression. They knew they had something good. And I’m committed to making sure that we’ll have additional funding for security, $25 million in our budget for security. We’ll protect the communities that are at most risk of hate crimes and attacks with the $25 million.
I want you to know, we will never forget and continue teaching the stories of the Holocaust in schools. I believe that needs to happen. That has to be part of children’s understanding of what can happen when people don’t rise up early enough to stop hatred and evil. That lesson needs to be taught because as I said, we’re seeing that elsewhere in this world and make sure that happens, but also to lift up the survivors.
Tell their stories of resiliency and strength, the strength that exists right here in these two rows. And I thank you for sharing with me a little bit of your life because that inspires me to be there for you. So thank you very much. Thank you.