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“I’m Not Alone”- Greatest Act of Kindness for Holocaust Survivors

Jerusalem Foundation - 20 October 2017

As we move farther and farther away from the horrific events of the Holocaust, more and more survivors find themselves alone. With every passing year, survivors lose their connections to friends who have experienced their horrors.

One of the greatest acts of kindness we can show Holocaust survivors is to hear their stories, giving them a platform to express their feelings and process their past while ensuring dignity in their old age. As one survivor put it, “loneliness is the hardest for an elderly person – even harder than an illness.”

That’s where Jerusalem Foundation’s Café Europa project steps in, providing meeting places for Jerusalem’s 20,000 Holocaust survivors, offering social and cultural programmes, as well as professionals who help ensure that the survivors receive the full government benefits they are entitled to.

There is also a ‘Café on Wheels’ programme that brings computers, books, and visits by multi-lingual volunteers to survivors’ who are homebound.

The very same survivors who speak of the pain of loneliness, also speak of the joys of participating in the Café Europa programme. As one survivor put it, “Café Europa is where I can socialise, hear a concert, or just read and relax.” And another noted, “Café Europa is so much more than coffee – I am always happy to be there.”

Bringing joy to Holocaust survivors is a challenging yet crucial task, for many still suffer from the emotional and traumatic wounds of one of the greatest horrors of the 20th century.

One Café Europa participant recalls having her mother pack a suitcase, not realising that she would never see her again. “I was 9…I didn’t know. My mother didn’t prepare me.”

Café Europa has been a safe space for survivors to process their trauma, a warm and welcoming environment where they can share experiences with others who understand their pain. “It is the one place where I feel surrounded by those who truly understand me,” said a survivor.

Not much time is left, and it is important that we continue to bring light to those who have experienced the greatest darkness of our time.

 

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