A Little Sliver of Gold

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A holocaust survivor is given a ‘day at the spa’

She led a full life. Her days were filled with giving to others. Her children, neighbors, friends.  Satisfying days. Neither did she neglect herself. Every so often she would recharge with a trip to the spa. A manicure. A facial. A great way to provide energy for herself as a giver. So relaxing. And it felt so good to be looking her best.

It’s all over now. No more giving. No more nurturing.  And no more pampering beauty treatments. No more anything. Just tasteless days at the nursing home. One day following the next. Each exactly the same. Continue reading A Little Sliver of Gold

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The Magic of Fulfilling a Dream

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A holocaust survivor reconnects with her past

Leah lived in a senior citizens’ home. Morning, noon and night.  She knew there was a world ‘out there’ but it had been so long. So long since she had gone anywhere but from her room to the dining room and back again. Her husband lay peacefully in his final resting place and she remained alive, just barely so, disconnected from the one with whom she had shared her whole life and disconnected from the world they had traveled together. How she longed to sense his presence once again. Perhaps with their two children. A ‘family trip’ like the many they shared so long ago. But a trip to the cemetery was as likely as a trip to the moon. Leah resigned herself to living out her remaining years in room #306, the ‘cage’ that was her home now. Continue reading The Magic of Fulfilling a Dream

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Once Again I’m Me

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A holocaust survivor recalls the joys of her youth

Today’s Holocaust survivors suffered indescribable trauma in their early childhood and youth. With this knowledge, we aim to sweeten their golden years and enable these lonely, isolated heroes to fulfill a wish. Each is an individual. Each led a life based on his individual likes and dislikes. But now they find themselves lumped together in the same facility with no choice as to room décor, type of food, or activities. With no opportunity to express personal desires, bit by bit, he becomes less of a person. It is for this reason that Ezer Mizion’s Project1 Wish was born.   Continue reading Once Again I’m Me

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A Holocaust Survivor Reaches Out to Others

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Healing the wounds of holocaust survivors

As one who went through the nightmare, Tziporah Abramowitz (77) is more capable than anyone else to connect to the depths of the souls of the holocaust survivors in order to help them with the emotional challenge of coping daily with the horrible memories, which do not leave them alone for a moment. She has become a beloved volunteer at Ezer Mizion’s social club for holocaust survivors. Her encouragement, her compliments, her ability to engage the members and her weekly presentation on the Parsha (Torah portion of the week) all serve to bring that elusive smile to the faces of these elderly victims of a horror that defies description.

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Raoel Wallenburg

Tziporah was one of those saved by Raoel Wallenburg. She was hidden, together with hundreds of children, in the cellar of one of the many buildings rented by Mr. Wallenburg. In the 17th century there had been a terrible fire in London that killed many. When the “Pest’ section of Budapest was built, it was required that from every building, there would be a way to escape to another building. Continue reading A Holocaust Survivor Reaches Out to Others

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Holocaust Survivors in their Golden Years

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We give the holocaust survivor practical assistance. They give us so much more.

Companionship. A vital need at every stage of life. And especially essential for the holocaust survivor. Rivka is a typical survivor.   She was born in 1930, in Lodz and grew up with her parents and three siblings in a warm, supportive family. But the war came crashing down on this idyllic family life and young Rivka was left all alone. Illness took the lives of her parents and her siblings perished in Auschwitz and Treblinka. Life as she had known it was no more and the future looked bleak indeed. But brick by brick, she rebuilt her life, marrying and raising a family. And now at 87 years old, she sits, absorbed in her memories, in need of the companionship of those who understand. Spending her days in a rocking chair by the window would be perfectly acceptable but she doesn’t want that. She wants to laugh. She wants to share. She wants to connect with others. And so Rivka became a member of Ezer Mizion’s ‘British Café Club’ and, for the past four years, has not missed an activity. Whatever the weather – cold, rainy, scorching hot – Rivka is there. Bright and bubbly and ever so grateful to the staff. Recently she fell and fractured her arm. But that didn’t stop her. Her arm ensconced in a cast, she surprised everyone  at the next event, showering blessings upon each individual staff member.  “I’m a holocaust survivor and my blessings have substantial weight in heaven,” she says as she moves on to the next person with her warm words of praise. Continue reading Holocaust Survivors in their Golden Years

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The Golden Age?

pr golden 2 14 yom tzilulimIt’s called the Golden Age. From the vantage point of a younger person, it truly seems golden. No difficulties with toddlers or raising a difficult teen. No problematic boss to please. No mortgage payments to meet. The senior can just sit back and enjoy her accomplishments. But is it really so? Now let’s change hats and sit on the senior’s rocking chair. No children who need her to kiss the boo-boo away. No shared smile of satisfaction with a daughter when the perfect Yom Tov outfit s finally found. No challenges. No satisfaction in meeting those challenges. The former frantically-busy-mother wonders just what she is doing in the world. Gradually, lacking the stimulus of natural challenge, she forgets how to think, how to problem solve, how to plan. Lacking goals, she is miserable, depressed with no idea how to extricate herself from the dilemma. Continue reading The Golden Age?

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Letters Meant for You, Our Dear Friends and Supporters

The following were just some of the letters received after the recent Bat Mitzvah for Holocaust Survivors. The event obviously filled a need deeply felt by those that had their childhood stolen by Hitler.

http://www.ezermizion.org/blog/i-missed-mine/

Continue reading Letters Meant for You, Our Dear Friends and Supporters

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I Missed Mine!

pr golden holocaust surv bas mitzvah 2016Many Holocaust survivors have built anew and are now successful heads of multi-generational families. But there in the recesses of their being lies the childhood that never was. They don’t speak about it. An adult would feel foolish expressing his regret over never having had the opportunity to play with dolls. But it’s there. Or rather, it is not there. A void that cannot be filled. Among themselves, the sorrow may come up in conversation. And at one other place: an Ezer Mizion Social Club for Holocaust Survivors. It was there that an idea was born.

As these heroes attend their grandchildren’s Bas and Bar Mitzvahs, their hearts are filled with pride. Yet there lurks that germ of regret. “I missed mine.”

Would a formal celebration during the Golden Years serve as closure for the childhood celebrations lost in the wisps of crematoria smoke. Call it a Bas Mitzvah. Call it a closure of sorts. Would it serve to put to rest, once and for all, a few of the demons that still invade in their souls? Continue reading I Missed Mine!

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The Holocaust Survivor

The war is long over. The crematoria have become a place to visit. Horrifying, yes, but safe from the sadism that was mankind. The Germans have even expressed their regrets in contrite tones of remorse. But for the victims… it can never be over. pr holocaust 1280px-Arbeit_Macht_Frei_Dachau_8235The horrific experiences permeated their very being. In their younger years, they may have managed to function what with job and home responsibilities covering over the nightmare that corroded their soul. But now- 70 years later – old, feeble, many of them alone, without family—they try to function. They try. But even though the body may still be healthy, the spirit has withered. And so they cower in a corner…sometimes figuratively…sometimes literally.

Leah* was one of those people. She lived at home, eating when hungry, sleeping when tired and spending the rest of her time just sitting. Do we dare to even think what memories may have flooded her sorely troubled mind as she sat, day after day, week after week. Alone. Her caregiver urged her to join Ezer Mizion’s Activity Club for Holocaust Survivors. The only response was disinterest and apathy. More urging from the caretaker. And more. And more. Finally, she was told to go and she went. But that was all. She sat in the crowded room… so alone. The group engaged in varied activities including crafts and exercise. They heard stimulating lectures from well-known people like Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Lau, the son of the well know holocaust survivor, Former Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, who inspired them with his warm words. Leah joined in none of these. She was hardly aware of the goings-on and never interacted with the others. Even a slight smile seemed to be a stranger to this face that had seen what no human being should have seen. She sat quietly in her corner, always dressed in the same clothing. It seemed as if the last spark had gone out and only a shell remained.

But Ruth Carmel, Ezer Mizion’s indomitable coordinator, was not about to admit defeat. With the sensitivity that comes from truly caring about each member, she saw beyond the dying ember that sat before her. She inquired, investigated, researched and slowly she began to uncover a productive past. In her younger days, Leah had been a dynamic, highly popular teacher and lecturer. Now Ruth knew which direction to take. Bit by bit, Leah began to tune into Ruth’s suggestions that she speak for the group on the Parshas HaShvuah (Torah portion of the week). A flicker of light would appear in her eyes but it would soon die down. Then one day… it didn’t die down.

The preparation wasn’t easy but it took her out of her self-imposed prison of indifference. Her talent, dormant for so long, came to life and the people enjoyed her speech. They complimented her afterwards and she responded. They asked questions and she answered. The conversation flowed to other topics and she was part of it. Her weekly speeches continued. It didn’t happen overnight but now, three years later, she is an animated, well-liked member of the group, socially involved, attentive to her clothing and grooming…and really happy!

 

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