UK Holocaust Charity in Sunset

The Otto Schiff Housing Association (OSHA), a U.K. charity that supports survivors of the Holocaust, is giving all its assets to other charities as it believes they are better placed to carry out the work.

The charity, formed in 1984 as an offshoot of the Central British Fund for German Jewry, which was set up in 1934 to provide shelter and care for German Jews fleeing Nazi Germany, has sold seven properties in the past decade. Five of these were care homes and two were sheltered housing.

OSHA has been through various transformations throughout the years although the vision has always remained the same, to serve the needs of victims of Nazi persecution. OSHA suffered huge financial setback during the 1990s mainly due to general operating losses and money spent on upgrading its properties. This, together with the changing nature of its client base from Holocaust survivors to older members of the Jewish Community, resulted in a change of direction for the charity. It was felt that the needs of the original client base would be better served by other Jewish charities and the task ahead was to try and sell all the properties. Eventually, In November 2010, the remaining homes on The Bishops Avenue site were sold and despite the downturn in the UK property market in 2007, the site was sold for £30.25 million. Its last property is in the process of being sold.

The money raised has been invested through the OSHA Distribution to various charities including nearly £20 million to Jewish Care, which has already built the brand new Otto Schiff nursing and dementia care facility in Jewish Care’s Golders Green Campus, and has plans to build another new care home in the near future. World Jewish Relief has received £16 million.

According to Ashley Mitchell, Chairman of Trustees, “After payment of necessary expenses, all the money has been allocated to other charities who can serve our original client group, to develop new buildings, pay for social workers, provide emergency aid packages and community needs in Eastern Europe. I strongly believe that other charities can learn from our approach which is to always stand by the core principles of the charity, to be brave and to use the funds raised for the right purpose at the right time.”

This post was updated to reflect revised amounts provided to Jewish Care and World Jewish Relief.