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The Warmth of Companionship

The latest from the ICEJ’s Haifa Home for Holocaust Survivors

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Posted on: 
7 Jul 2020
The Warmth of Companionship

A Time to Embrace
After a long ten-week lockdown, the residents of the ICEJ’s Home for Holocaust Survivors in Haifa were finally able to leave their apartments and start coming together again in late May. The first gathering was to celebrate Shavuot (Pentecost) in the community dining hall. It was a refreshing time of just being together once more!

Rivka, one of our dear survivors, entered the room with tearful eyes and said: “These are tears of joy! I am so very happy to see everyone again in good health.”

The atmosphere was quite festive. Everyone came in their best outfit, ready to enjoy this traditional Jewish holiday together. The chefs prepared a delicious meal fit for royalty, and the whole evening turned out very special. But the greatest blessing of all was finally being able to see and speak to one another in person. They had really missed the warmth of each other’s companionship.

Another Haifa Home resident, Mania Herman, was so moved by being able to connect with everyone again that she wrote a very touching poem:

Meeting again!
Finally, the residents of the Haifa Home meet again
After they were locked up in their homes due to the awful Coronavirus
Thank God, that the “very unwelcome guest” did not visit us
With God’s help it passed us by

How nice and pleasant it is to meet in the dining room with friends
Together sharing food and words
We hope that we will meet each other also in the future from time to time
And at other events and parties

We wish everyone health, a good mood, and new perspectives
We will share experiences in a great atmosphere
And welcome guests will visit us again with joy
We wish Shimon and the (ICEJ) team that provided all our needs with a generous heart,
good health and a willing heart to serve, now and in the future

Celebrating Life
Gestures of love and attention do wonders to the human heart. With the recent opening of our new activity center at the Haifa Home, the ICEJ caregiver team has been organizing birthday parties for the residents, complete with balloons, decorations, cakes and music. It was a special thrill to surprise several residents with unexpected birthday parties. Taking time to celebrate the life of each resident brings such joy and happiness into their lives!

When we brought Rita to the activity center for ‘a cup of coffee’, to her delight she discovered a surprise party to honour her 86th birthday.

“You made my day. I feel so special, loved and appreciated on this special day for me,” she kept saying.

Art with Colour
In the art room we installed at the Haifa Home, some of our residents create the most colourful art projects. Our art therapist, Claudia, is a Jewish immigrant from Colombia whose own family history was impacted by the Holocaust. So she is great help to the survivors as they create their own masterpieces. 

Bluma, even with her dimming eyesight, is found every afternoon in the art room working on a new art project. Recently, she made a small case for her medicines and a vase for the beautiful tulips she received as a gift from friends.


Aliyah… Better Late Than Never
Over recent months, we welcomed two new residents to the Haifa Home for Holocaust Survivors. Meir made aliyah to Israel from Romania only three years ago, while Renate, originally from Germany, came to Israel seven years ago from the United States, where she had lived for five decades.

Both new residents are still facing the challenge of adjusting to a new country, culture and language at an advanced age. It was very brave of them to make Aliyah in their latter years, and we are thankful to have these two new residents join our caring community.

A Time to Refrain from Embracing… Again
Unfortunately, the joy of reconnecting with each other in the dining hall did not last long. Even after dividing the residents in different shifts, the decision was made to close the community dining room due to the second wave of Corona infections now hitting Israel.

It is very difficult for these elderly residents to deal with this second round of Corona lockdowns, not only for health reasons but largely because of the loneliness they have to endure. Having to stay isolated in their rooms, this is a scary feeling for many Holocaust survivors, because their minds instinctively relive the horrific memories of the war years.

Therefore, we ask you to pray for all the residents of our Haifa Home for Holocaust Survivors during this difficult time. Please also pray for strength and wisdom for our ICEJ staff here, as we continue to provide the best care possible for each resident during this most unusual period in all of our lives.

And please partner with us by giving your most generous gift today to care for these Holocaust Survivors living out their last days here in the Jewish homeland.

To learn more about how your donation can help, click here!

Support the extensive ongoing work and witness of the ICEJ by helping us fund our core activities in fulfilling our mandate to support Israel, connect the church, provide education and promote justice.

Donations allow us to maintain funding for emergency projects, and embark on new initiatives to support Israel in these critical days.

Thank you for your ongoing support of ICEJ Canada!


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