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Hanukkah with Holocaust Survivors


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Posted on: 
10 Jan 2013
Hanukkah with Holocaust Survivors

In early December, ICEJ staff members celebrated the Jewish festival of Hanukkah with Holocaust Survivors in the city of Pardes Hanna, just south of Haifa. Some 40 survivors, most of them widowed, came together to celebrate the holiday with music, songs and the popular Hanukkah tradition of suvganiyot – jelly-filled donuts. Israeli high school students who take part in a special survivor adoption program of ICEJ AID were also on hand to enjoy the evening.

During the celebration, Holocaust survivors paired off with the young visitors to light candles on the Hanukkiah menorah. Yudit Setz from ICEJ AID helped a proud and smiling Benjamin to light the first candle. When it came time for the singing of Hanukkah songs, Benjamin gladly joined in – he finds it increasingly hard to function in the present but he remembered every word from the songs of his past.

Benjamin is one of the Holocaust survivors from all across Israel who regularly receive visits by high school students through a special adoption program of ICEJ AID, which also pays visits to the aging survivors from time to time. The ICEJ program makes sure that the apartments of adoptees are painted and provides the young visitors with transport to the survivors’ homes. The Israeli students involved in the visitation program are normally preparing for their three years of military service in the IDF. Every other week the youngsters come for a visit and deliver food and basic household items, also provided by ICEJ AID.

Like Benjamin, many of the adopted survivors live alone, with no one to visit them outside the adoption program, so they really enjoy the visits.

“When they know that we are coming, they sit and wait the whole day for us”, explained Marty, a student who recently made aliyah with his family from the United States. “We visit them in a small group, sing and talk with them, listen to their stories and they show us their pictures.”

Even before the Hanukkah celebration started, the young men were busy visiting those Holocaust survivors who are no longer able to leave their homes.

“It makes us feel good because when we leave they are still smiling and singing”, said Marty.

He and the other students sang and danced and juggled, while others played the guitar and violin. Cheered up by the visits, the survivors tapped their toes and clapped in time.

“We want to celebrate life and help those who still live”, explained Rivka, the local coordinator for the visitation program. “Yudit especially came from Jerusalem to celebrate with us. I would like to thank the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem heartily for the good cooperation and all the support.”

Please partner with us to finish renovating the apartments where Shlomo, Lev and other homeless survivors are now living! And consider adopting one of these precious Holocaust survivors through regular contributions to their care and the daily operations of our Haifa Home. Donate on-line today


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