How the war in Ukraine is impacting our Haifa HomePublished on: 19.4.2022
By Yudit Setz
The TV is full of images of women, children and the elderly in Ukraine fleeing their homes with only a small suitcase of belongings. This is making a huge impact on our residents at the ICEJ’s Haifa Home for Holocaust survivors. Many are reliving what they experienced as children in the Shoah.
For Chaya Caspi, watching the news from Ukraine stirs up disturbing memories from her past. To this day, Chaya regularly relives a certain unimaginable pain of Nazi cruelty, and she feels great compassion for people in Ukraine.
“I feel a deep pain in my heart when I think of Ukraine. The war is not face-to-face, so there are many civilian casualties. Families are ripped apart. Innocent women and children are killed by Putin’s bombs,” said Chaya.
She was born in Romania and was eight when World War II started. When the Nazis came, men over 15 were rounded up and shot. Chaya’s 19-year-old brother was among them. Chaya’s father and younger brothers were later rounded up and crammed into cattle cars. He and his younger sons were on the train for eight days without food or water. At the end of the journey, the doors opened and all the dead were tossed out. Chaya’s youngest brother died on that train. The father miraculously survived the war as a slave laborer and was reunited with the remaining family afterwards.
Another survivor, Esti, was born in Poland. Her father was killed when the Germans arrived and burned her village. Esti and her mother and sisters fled to the forests for nine long months. They built small shelters and made blankets from leaves. One day, German soldiers walked into the forest and started shooting. Her mother and two sisters were killed right next to her. Esti and her other sister managed to escape – she still doesn’t know how.
When Esti hears about Ukraine, tears well up in her eyes. It reminds her of the time when Ukrainians helped the Germans to kill Jews.
“But today’s Ukrainians have nothing to do with the old generations. It’s the same with the Germans. I love all the volunteers from Germany who care for me today. They’re not guilty,” Esti insisted.
She feels sad that Ukrainians are going through similar things that she had to endure.
“To be forced to pack up your things suddenly and be uprooted, to see dear family members murdered. However, I’m glad that the Ukrainians receive so much help and refuge all over the world. Back then, no one wanted to help us because we were Jews,” recalled Esti.
For a time like this
While working with our partner organization to rescue Holocaust survivors from Ukraine, here in Haifa we are preparing rooms to take in several of these survivors. When the Ukrainian survivors arrive in Israel, they will first be cared for by the Jewish Agency. During this time, we will meet with them to see who will fit best in the Haifa Home.
Meantime, after overcoming several hurdles, the elevator is finally being installed in our newest apartment building, which may be the ideal place to house some of these Ukrainian survivors. It is almost too much to fathom what these people went through as children and are now going through late in life. The Christian Embassy wants to do all we can to comfort and support these future residents.
March was a difficult month at the Haifa Home, as three of our dear residents passed away. May the memory of Zvi Cohen (90), Klara Berkovitz (90) and Edmond Bozaglo (82) be blessed.
With so few years remaining to extend comfort and care to Holocaust survivors, please show your love towards them by supporting the ICEJ’s Haifa Home for Holocaust survivors.