Survivors celebrate opening of new dining room
By: Yudit Setz

Among the many activities of late at the ICEJ’s Home for Holocaust Survivors in Haifa, we have completely renovated the community dining room, and also made preparations to safeguard the residents in case the current war in Gaza escalates to the point of engulfing northern Israel in a major conflict with Hizbullah in Lebanon.

War preparations underway
Israeli leaders have warned that tens of thousands of Israelis evacuated from communities along the northern border may not be able to safely return to their homes unless the IDF goes into southern Lebanon to push the Hizbullah terror militia back from the border area. This would likely lead to a major escalation in the current war, with several thousand Hizbullah rockets fired into northern Israel every day.

In response, the ICEJ has taken several steps to make our Haifa Home better prepared to protect the elderly Holocaust survivors who reside there. First, we have arranged with the city of Haifa and the electric company to provide a large back-up generator that can supply power for the entire block where most of the residents live in case of a power failure. We have organized a large safe room just off the dining hall to allow quick access during meals and community meetings. We also have purchased and stored away food and emergency items to take care of the residents should no one be able to go outside.

In addition, we have also equipped a large underground shelter at a public school across the street to house the residents should Haifa come under heavy rocket barrages. We are also making a room into a safe room in the building where part of our residents from the Ukraine live.

Finally, we have donated a new ambulance to serve Holocaust survivors at the Home and other survivors throughout the Haifa region.

We pray that the conflict will not widen, as the residents of the Haifa Home have already seen enough wars and suffering in their lives. But we need to be prepared just in case.

Mania speaks at Holocaust memorial day

Mania’s message on International Holocaust Remembrance Day
The Haifa Home marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day two days early on 25 January in the presence of ambassadors and consuls from several nations who came to show their support for the Jewish people. The gathering was moved by the testimony of Mania, a Holocaust survivor and Haifa Home resident who shared her powerful story of hope in the face of great adversity. She brought a very sobering message as she reflected on how the Hamas massacres on October 7 had made the vow “Never Again” seemingly lose its meaning.

With rising antisemitism now approaching the levels of the 1930s in Europe, Holocaust survivors are determined to raise their voices to ensure their stories of suffering and loss of entire families are not forgotten.

In Israel today, there are 137,401 Holocaust survivors still living in the Land. Their ages range from 77 to 111 years old, and 62% are women. We want to keep their stories alive, to support and care for them, and to stand with them in this dark hour.

Moshe bar haim

Remembering Moshe Bar Haim
Moshe Bar Haim, a resident of the Haifa Home, was born in Romania and lived happily with his family as a child. But his life drastically changed during World War Two when the family was forced into hiding. After a long time of fear of getting caught, the Jewish family was finally discovered by German forces. They were separated and sent to different camps. It was there that Moshe witnessed unimaginable horrors and faced traumas, hardships, and heartache that would mark him for life.

Miraculously, they survived the war and were liberated by the Russian army, and he soon sailed for Mandatory Palestine. But on the way, the ship was stopped by British forces and Moshe was brought to Cyprus, where he and other Jewish war refugees were put into detention camps yet again. Eventually, Moshe arrived in Israel, where he studied agriculture, was drafted as a soldier, and ultimately became a teacher. He then moved to America, where he discovered his talent as a chef and restaurateur, running a thriving restaurant with his wife.

Sadly, Moshe’s life was once again touched by grief when he lost his wife after 46 years, followed later by the loss of his youngest daughter. In his later years, Moshe found himself in need of a supportive environment, which he found at the Haifa Home until his passing on January 30, 2024, at the age of 90. His departure has left a void among his family and friends and the entire community at the Haifa Home.

Yaacov celebrates 100th birthday
Haifa Home resident Yaacov H. just reached the remarkable age of 100, joining two other centenarians with Polish roots at the Home! The dedicated care of our amazing 24/7 caregivers, and the activities and love offered at the Home, all contribute to the longevity of our residents. The Haifa Home continues to be a place of warmth and joy which inspires our residents and team. Thank you for allowing us to celebrate these milestones with these precious Holocaust survivors!

Renovated dining room reopens
We are always keen to make the common public spaces at our Haifa Home more beautiful, homey and inviting for our residents. So, we embarked on a major renovation of the community dining hall, modernizing the kitchen, and adding a special corner for all the dairy products plus an industrial dishwasher.

After a month of extremely hard work by a carefully selected group of wonderful professional builders, we finally were able to have a festive and joyous reopening in mid-February.

Joy was beaming from the faces of the residents. The significance of the dining room is not just enjoying the meals our residents share there every day, but also the feeling of belonging together, of seeing one another, conversing with each other, and so much more. It also is the place where most of the main community gatherings, such as concerts and group visits, are held.

The renovation plans were done by an interior designer from the Caucasus region named Maya who made Aliyah last year. Besides being an engineer, interior design is in her heart. For us to give a new Jewish immigrant their first project in the country was an added blessing in this renovation.

“This is my first project in Israel. I put my heart and soul into it to bring some joy to the Holocaust survivors, who suffered so much,” said Maya. “I hope that when they enter the room, it will give them a warm and joyful feeling and will add some positive things in their life.”

Maya is a joyful and energetic person, and she indeed put her whole self into it, putting in long hours alongside the local construction workers.

With beautiful music from a violin and pan flute, delicious delicacies, and a festive meal, the dining hall was officially reopened. The room was packed! Most residents and their caregivers who came were delighted to be together and enjoy the new look and feel.

“Wow, it is so beautiful and homey! It is like sitting in a very nice restaurant,” many residents agreed.

They also were eager to thank all their generous Christian friends worldwide who made this revamped dining hall possible.

Please continue to support the Haifa Home and the ICEJ’s other efforts to care for the needs of ageing Holocaust survivors in Israel.

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