Yudit on Memorial Day
By: Yudit Setz

For the elderly residents of the ICEJ’s Home for Holocaust survivors in Haifa, we provide a warm and welcoming community that feels more like family than a retirement home. Each one lost many relatives in the Holocaust some 80 years ago, and they are so glad to now be able to live out their lives in dignity among our caring staff and fellow survivors who shared the same experiences. Here are some of the latest happenings at the Haifa Home.

Celebrating Life

Celebrating life at the Haifa Home

Birthdays are always milestones and worth celebrating! Residents are always very touched by the personal attention, the balloons, and the feeling that they are special. One of our residents from Ukraine was so excited to celebrate her birthday that she organized a party and invited the staff to come and celebrate with her. It brought her so much joy to arrange the party.  

Her excitement for the celebration was evident, but it was her heartfelt words that truly resonated with everyone present. Reflecting on her journey fleeing from Odessa 2 years ago, Natalia shared her emotional transition: “When I first arrived here, tears were a daily occurrence. Leaving behind my social circles, home and everything I knew was difficult. With my husband having passed away and my son living abroad, I felt utterly alone. But now, I feel like I’ve found a family here. You are my family! I’m grateful every day for the chance to live in this community, for the care I receive, and for the sense of belonging.” 

Solidarity groups visit the Haifa Home

In a wonderful display of solidarity, an ICEJ German group of over 40 people recently made a heartwarming visit to Israel, bringing gifts and singing songs to uplift the residents of the Haifa Home. All the survivors were deeply moved by their acts of love and support in the middle of war and with the rise of anti-Semitism across the West.   

Holocaust Survivor, Lena

Lena was deeply moved when she received a gift from some of the Germans in the group. With tears in her eyes, she remarked, “If I hadn’t come to the Haifa Home, I would have never known that  Germany has so many Christians who love us.” She added, “Thank you so much German Christians for supporting Israel, for praying for us, helping us, sympathizing with us, and coming to us, even though we are in the middle of a war.”

From all of my heart, I am thankful and send you God’s blessings.” The words of Lena are just one example of the profound impact felt by countless residents who were touched by the solidarity of the German group.

Passing of Genia Schwartzbert 

Holocaust Survivor, Genia Schwartzbert

This month, Genia Schwartzbert, a beloved resident of the Haifa Home, passed away at nearly 101. She survived immense loss during the Holocaust, including her parents and separation from her brother, while protecting her younger sister. After making Aliyah in 1957, she faced more personal tragedies but remained resilient. 

Genia cherished her time at the Haifa Home. She was buried in Haifa, surrounded by loved ones. We will miss her dearly. Thank you to those who supported her.

Holocaust Memorial Day 

Amidst the challenges of a Memorial Day overshadowed by war and the troubling rise of antisemitism worldwide, the ceremony unfolded under the weeping skies. Attendees, including Holocaust survivors, soldiers, schoolchildren, MKs, representatives of Haifa, rabbis, and delegates from the embassies of Russia, Romania, Taiwan, and India gathered outside together. 

Together we remembered the tragedies of the Holocaust. During the ceremony, Yudit Setz addressed the audience with these words:

Yudit and Holocaust Survivors on Memorial Day

“Precious Holocaust Survivors, I embrace you on this very difficult day in the name of Christians around the world, who love you and stand with you. In this very difficult time for Israel, here and abroad, nice words at ceremonies without deeds ring empty and have no meaning.”

“ICEJ represents Christians who have echoed the words of Ruth spoken to Naomi. “Your people are my people and your God is my God.” In the nation we stand with you in prayer, in action, fighting against antisemitism, and standing for what is right. You are not alone!”

In the face of adversity, amidst the echoes of history’s darkest chapter, these words instilled a glimmer of hope in a time when Israel feels so alone in the world.

Please partner with the Christian Embassy in our work among Holocaust survivors in Israel by supporting our special elderly care home for them in Haifa.