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
It’s Thursday morning and the door opens. He walks slowly but with purpose. He knows he needed. Eliezer Cohen is eighty- nine years old. He may not be as young and spry as he had been fifty years ago but his fingers are skilled and his expertise is still needed. Continue reading A Holocaust Survivor Gives Back
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. The 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!
They Told Me: ‘You’ll Never Have More Children’
When Efrat was diagnosed with cancer, the doctors told her she would never have more children * Soon, she will be celebrating her son’s first birthday
One doctor told her she’d never have a baby. Another offered guidance in adoption. They all agreed that Efrat Keren’s chances of bearing more children of her own were next to nil. Continue reading They Told Me I’d Never Have Another Baby