Keeping Holocaust Survivors’ Stories Alive
By: Yudit Setz, ICEJ Deputy AID Director
International Holocaust Memorial Day was marked on January 25, 2024, in the Haifa Home in the presence of consuls and ambassadors from many nations to show their support of the Jewish people. We were all moved by Mania, a Haifa Home resident and Holocaust Survivor who shared her powerful story of hope in the face of such adversity.
It was a sobering event as she reflected on how, after October 7, somehow the words “Never Again” seemed to have lost their meaning.
With the level of antisemitism now reaching the same level as it was in the 1930s, Survivors are determined to raise their voices to ensure their stories and the stories of their families and people are not forgotten.
In Israel today, there are 137,401 Holocaust Survivors and victims of antisemitic harassment during the Holocaust who are still alive and living in the Land. Their ages range from 77 to 111 years old, and 62 percent are women.
We want to keep their stories alive, support them, and stand with them in this dark hour.
Renovation of the Dining Hall
We are excited to now be renovating the Haifa Home dining hall. After years of wear and tear with broken ceilings, chipped paint, and exposed wiring, with your support, we have been able to start renovations.
Through connections in the area, we have hired Maya—a recent Russian immigrant with a degree in engineering and experience in interior design—to lead the renovation in the Home as her first project in Israel!
Our goal is to create a welcoming, uplifting, and inspiring environment. We are rewiring, painting walls, and have fixed the ceiling. We expect to have finished the renovations by February, so stay tuned for our grand opening ceremony!
Update on the Fitness Room
Haifa Home residents are overjoyed with their new fitness and physiotherapy room. Simcha, our physiotherapist, refers to this room as the “Fitness Garden,” and that is exactly what it is.
Walking into the room, the bright colors and many plants instantly spark joy and excitement. The new, beautiful space houses some of the best equipment, specifically chosen according to the residents’ needs. A massage bed, elliptical machine, and strength training equipment are just some of the tools Simcha uses to support the Survivors. Simcha also uses games and therapeutic dolls to engage the Survivors.
Nancy, the local art therapist, has continued to support the residents of the Haifa Home through weekly creative therapy sessions. Since the war began on October 7, the nation as a whole has experienced trauma, heightened stress, and depression.
In response to this, and to support the residents, we have expanded our creative therapy program. We have already witnessed symptoms of depression and anxiety alleviated through these art therapy sessions.
In January we focused on Tu B’shvat (the new year of trees) activities. One of the activities was painting almond trees, which are the first trees to grow in Israel during this season.
This activity helped to focus Survivors on the gift of life and the beauty that is in life; it helped them redirect their attention from the tragedies Israel is facing and the loss of life they have witnessed to the beauty of creation and new life. When ICEJ staff complimented a resident from Ukraine named Arnold, he said with a big smile, “Don’t give me too much praise, or else I will become prideful!”
Make a difference in the life of a Holocaust Survivor by supporting the Haifa Home.