Connecting to Holocaust survivors during the High Holidays

A prayer often said before Rosh Hashanah is: “Let the misfortunes of the past year come to an end…Let the new year begin with a blessing.”

At Jewish Family & Children’s Service, many of the more than 8,000 individuals and families we serve each year are able to begin again after a life transition or crisis thanks to the work of our staff and our supporters.

For a certain segment of our clients, new beginnings are all too important. Through the generous funding and support of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, Inc., the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, the Jewish Healthcare Foundation and donors to JF&CS, we help Holocaust survivors by offering services to address and support the psychological and emotional needs of aging Jewish Holocaust survivors and help them remain connected to the community. Since the program began in 1998, more than 130 survivors have been helped with services that include cleaning and care-giving services, kosher meals on wheels, counseling, care management and more.

“Because of this program, the survivors in Pittsburgh have a high level of trust in our agency and are so comfortable turning to us when they’re in need,” said Sandy Budd, geriatric care manager and coordinator of the program. “We treat our survivors with dignity and respect, we listen to their needs and wants, and we try to make this as easy as possible for them to access our services and programs.”

Even though the Holocaust took place more than 70 years ago, we can still recover blessings in the spirit of Rosh Hashanah from its destructive power by bringing comfort to those who are survivors among us and help them thrive in our communities.

“One of the most important things to realize about the survivors is they’re still here, and now they have children and even grandchildren,” Sandy said. “Each year is a blessing because they are continuing their Jewish heritage, their families and their faith, all of which could have been wiped out. Their strength and resilience–to come to this country and rebuild their lives, their families and their faith; to be so forgiving in the face of destruction and hatred; to be able to move forward and live fulfilling lives–is an unbelievable blessing to witness each day.”

Each Rosh Hashanah, each new year, brings an opportunity to remember and reflect on what the Holocaust was intended to do, and most importantly that it did not succeed.

We have a lot to be thankful for in the coming year and we have you to thank for helping us make our work happen each day.  Thank you for your support and may you and your family be blessed with good health and happiness in the coming year.

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