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  • A speaker at one of the weekly Beit Yehudit Café Europa gatherings
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‘I’m Not Alone’ Campaign Growing

editor - 24 October 2018

By Ariella Bernstein.. More than a year ago, the Jerusalem Foundation embarked on the ‘I’m Not Alone’ campaign to support Jerusalem’s Holocaust survivors.

There are five branches of Café Europa day centres that allow participants to meet and bond with others who suffered the same tragedies during World War II.

One may have expected a decrease in the demand for Café Europa over the years, yet the number of participants continues to grow, particularly among English speakers. The programme takes place at Beit Yehudit Community Center in the German Colony neighbourhood in Jerusalem where they served 165 Holocaust survivors in 2017, up from 100 in 2016.

There is a reason for this 65% increase

As Holocaust survivors get older, they face additional challenges and losses, such as losing a spouse or decreased physical and mental capacities. Their needs are often greater, but the available support systems are more limited.

These new challenges add yet another layer of complexity to their unresolved grief from other traumatic experiences. Café Europa provides critical services to deal with these complex hardships.

The Café Europa English Speakers Club provides a place to feel safe and understood. The group experience reduces the feeling of isolation and allows survivors to connect through retelling positive and negative experiences. Survivors can speak of what they gained, lost and then rebuilt, sometimes many times over.

Music, lectures, cultural outings, lessons on survivors’ benefits and technology, coupled with Café Europa’s supportive environment, offer comfort and the freedom to process past experiences and their influence on their lives today.

On a regular basis, between 20 – 35 English speakers attend the Beit Yehudit Café Europa every week and the impact on their lives is evident through some of their recent comments:

“Marilyn Lyons (singer) reminded me of my youth. After the camps, I wanted to dance, as those were the songs we danced and sang to.” Gerta Salon, an orphaned survivor.

“The session you had on our benefits helped us financially. We got our hearing test for free!” Jane and Eric Tietz, German Jews who escaped Nazi-occupied Europe to Switzerland in 1941.

“The talk about technology was wonderful! I Facetimed my guide in Poland and my grandson in America at the same time!” Renna Quint, an orphaned survivor of Bergen Belsen.

Please support Jerusalem’s Holocaust survivors via the ‘I’m Not Alone’ campaign of the Jerusalem Foundation. Any amount is welcome!

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