Chaya with great grandchild
By: Yudit Setz

For Holocaust Survivors, it means the world that they were able to get established, marry and raise families. They did more than just survive. And whenever a great grandchild is born, it brings great joy – as if it is a personal victory over Hitler’s evil plans.

At the ICEJ’s Home for Holocaust survivors in Haifa, two very excited residents – each 90 years old – recently welcomed their first great grandchildren into the world!

“I am so very happy”, exclaimed Moshe. “I suffered a lot in my life, but I asked God to let me live to see my first great grandchild. And now I lived to see and touch her. What a joy!” 

Meanwhile, Chaya was beside herself when showing a picture of her first great-grandchild to everyone.

Her husband passed away young, so Chaya raised their son and daughter on her own. When the two children married, both couples encountered difficulties trying to conceive. After a decade of failed attempts, they each adopted children. Then two years later, her daughter-in-law finally fell pregnant and had a baby boy. Thus, Chaya was blessed with four grandchildren, each one born in a different country – Brazil, Guatemala, Australia and lastly Israel.

“I am so happy and blessed with the children and grandchildren I have, and I love them all”, said Chaya. “Recently, my granddaughter gave birth to my first great-grandchild. I cannot express in words the joy I feel. I hope God will bless us further, that our family will continue to grow. I thank Him for showing me His grace.”

A new lease on life

Maya and her husband fled the war in Ukraine more than a year ago. The first months of adjusting to Israel were difficult. Maya was depressed and lacked the energy or desire to attend Hebrew lessons. However, she recently started wanting to learn the language, and Maria of our ICEJ team is helping her catch up with the group.

“Maya is doing great”, assured Maria. “She has such a sharp mind and pretty soon she will be level with the other students.”

“These Hebrew lessons helped me set a new goal in life”, added Maya. “I am busy now and have no time to be depressed.”

Playing Bingo

Living in the Haifa Home gives aging Holocaust survivors the opportunity to go through the advanced stages of life without the loneliness many elderly people experience. From eating together every day in the dining room, to celebrating birthdays and holidays together, the residents share their lives with each other under the loving care of our ICEJ team.

Our staff continuously tries to enhance their lives in different ways, such as fun activities, personal attention, medical care, concerts, and the most recent addition – a weekly Bingo tournament.

The residents sit together with coffee and cake, and play Bingo. The first games ended in a beautiful way, with the winner, 95 year-old Sophie, giving away her prize to second place Boris, who recently arrived with his wife Sveta from war-torn Ukraine.

“They are new to Israel and our home, and do not have much”, explained Sophie. “I don’t need anything!”

Getting out at last

Among our new residents from Ukraine are several survivors who are home-bound due to their medical condition. Already, we have taken Viktor and Sonja on several sightseeing trips. One was to the top of Mount Carmel, which has a breath-taking view of Haifa harbour below. On another outing, they enjoyed the beach along the beautiful Mediterranean Sea.

Sonja, who rarely goes outside, enjoys every minute of our little journeys. When we reached the Mount Carmel viewpoint, she lifted her face to catch some sun and drank in the scenery for quite a while. Later that evening, Viktor called to express again their gratefulness for the joy it gave his wife.

Thank you for supporting the ICEJ’s Haifa Home for Holocaust Survivors.

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