Holocaust Survivors: Tired, Alone, Ill… Giving Up?

By Susan Heagy

 Each year there is a slight change in our approach.  The needs of the Survivors or their health declining; their mobility is less… all expected with age, right?Survivors in Kryot videotaping their war accounts (Small)

 But want about Survivors of the Holocaust?  Is it any different for them with the horrible trauma and invading memories?  Does it present them with anything other than the normal issues?

Yes, it is different.  This year we are seeing new challenges to give them assistance.  Just this week, when visiting a wonderful culture center near Tel Aviv, I spoke with some very old men who came to Israel right after being in the camps.

One elderly man gave his interview with TBN/AHI, telling of fighting the war in Odessa as a young man, fighting literally as a Jew for the right to live.  In 1946 he came to Israel just in time to fight for Jerusalem.  Over the next 25 years he fought in every war Israel experienced to gain and keep their freedom.  I spoke with him before the interview, and again after.  It was a different man in front of me after speaking of these events.  Smiling and joking with us before but afterward, he was drained, exhausted and had a very haunted look.  His memories had come pouring out and now they were like monsters surrounding him.  I wanted to cheer him up and spoke with him a bit, but there was no denying the effect of his hour with the camera.  I suspected his night would be filled with terrors.

The Survivors are rapidly aging now.  Many have held off the years, with a few continuing to keep it at bay, but a lot are reaching that stage of life where everything is difficult and sad about approaching the end.

I have noticed the joy, the light, is fading for many of them.  The illness and loneliness has increased over the loss of a spouse, siblings, sometimes children and occasionally losing a grandchild in one of Israel’s wars.  Life is hard; really hard.  There is little they can do and most of their memories are bad ones.  Our visits are no longer an interlude, but instead have become lifelines.  And for those who are blessed to have been adopted, attached to that lifeline is a new family.  Each letter or card or photo sent to them brings them new life.  It is much like an infusion of new blood.

To all Adopters, please remember how important you and your letters are to your Survivor.  They NEED you; they really do.

And if you have no yet adopted a Survivor, the time is running out.  Please help bring Life! to a Holocaust Survivor.  It only takes a letter and a bit of love…

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