Change Region:ICEJ

Haifa Home Residents Slowly Emerge From Lockdown

Haifa Home Update: May 2020

Printer-friendly versionSend by email
Posted on: 
14 May 2020
Haifa Home Residents Slowly Emerge From Lockdown

“All of the sudden I felt like I was imprisoned. I couldn’t do the things anymore that I used to do like visiting friends, going out for coffee… The light in the midst of this dark time was the daily knock on the door and the visit of the ICEJ team. They took me out for a walk, brightening up my day with good talks and laughter when I felt depressed and taking care of my needs. I am very grateful." - Rita, a resident at the ICEJ Haifa Home for Holocaust Survivors

The seventy elderly residents at the ICEJ’s assisted-living home for Holocaust Survivors in Haifa are slowly, cautiously emerging from the isolation of a nine-week Corona lockdown in their rooms. They are relieved to be alive and well, happy to see each other, and grateful for the daily loving care provided by our Christian team on-site all these many weeks.

Retirement homes in Israel and worldwide were hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis, with some decimated by the virus that has particularly targeted the elderly. But we are elated to report that not one of the Holocaust survivors under our care at the Haifa Home contracted the Coronavirus. And in fact, they have all been remarkably healthy for their age over the past two months of the lockdown, thanks to all the hearty meals, vitamins, medical checks and daily visits provided by Yudit Setz and her six Christian co-workers at the home.

When the quarantine period began in March, the residents had great difficulties with the sudden isolation. Instead of sharing meals together each day at the community cafeteria, they had to stay in their apartments and eat alone. Instead of celebrating Passover and Israel’s Independence Day with their families and friends, they had to celebrate alone. Their only contact was with our Christian staff and volunteers, who rotated shifts over the prolonged lockdown period to provide the care they needed.

“Our ICEJ team became their only lifeline to the outside world and their main caregivers seven days a week”, explained Yudit Setz, who heads our Haifa Home team.“We visited their homes daily to find out how they were coping, took them out for little walks, did physiotherapy, checked their medical needs, and repaired things in their homes. These may seem like small things, but they often made a huge difference in their day-to-day lives. They looked forward to our knock on their door and the human contact that broke the loneliness and brightened their day.”

As the health restrictions slowly lift, a new activity room has now opened which is giving the residents a welcome place to finally see each other again, play games, exercise, create art, and just come for a drink and normal conversation. The residents and staff are still abiding by the social distancing rules, but this wonderful activity center is providing a warm, safe, lively hub for camaraderie and fun.

Who Needs A Haircut?
Due to the quarantine conditions, many of the residents and even the staff are in dire need of a haircut. So, where do you go when your hair salon is closed? Well, no worries because one of the Haifa Home residents, 92-year-old Fanny, has been a hairdresser for almost 50 years! Eli, one of the volunteers, was desperate for a haircut, so Fanny happily and confidently gave him a nice trim. Even something so small was so rewarding for her!

Commemorations and Birthdays
In late April, the Haifa Home went ahead with hosting a ceremony to mark Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. Instead of the usual crowd of survivors, family, police and soldiers, the ceremony was held with only a few residents and guests in attendance, sitting two meters apart. Shalom Stamberg (age 97) and Miriam Linial (98), both survivors of Auschwitz, lit the remembrance flame, and Shlomo Shertzer (94) recited the prayer of mourning.

Yudit Setz led off the ceremony with a heart-felt message.

“Dear Holocaust survivors, for you this is such a difficult day and I embrace you with a warm and huge embrace in the name of thousands of Christians who admire you, who think about you and pray for you at this time. I have the great privilege of seeing you almost every day, and you have taught me so many things ... How to never give up regardless of the difficult circumstances … To live with hope amid the biggest storm, knowing that one day the sun will shine again ... To love instead of hate…”

Just a few days later, the Haifa Home residents were able to enjoy a scaled-back celebration of Yom Haatzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day! The ICEJ team visited each resident, sang joyful songs, and talked with them about their hopes for Israel. Rita shared that she longs for the day when the Corona is fully behind us, “so that we will continue to be a free people in a free country.”

“I wish for peace and health for all of Israel and blessings to the IDF who protect us”, said Motke. “May we have less arguments together and agree more as a people”, he added.

Our Moral Duty to Help
Should the worst of the Corona crisis now be behind us, we will always look back at this unique moment as a special time when a handful of Christians were in the right place at the right time to help these dear Holocaust survivors through a very trying ordeal late in their lives. But the daily work of caring for these survivors continues, and the opportunity is there for you to show God’s love to the Jewish people by supporting the Haifa Home.

Galina, a resident from the Haifa Home expressed her deep gratitude for the help she has received: “This Corona time has been a very special time for me. I have felt so protected, safe and important because of all the attention and care I received. Meals were brought to my doorstep, all my personal needs were met and medically I was taken care of. I have felt so loved. It feels like one of the best times of my life! Thank you so much!”

“We have a moral duty, not only to remember the Holocaust, but also to take care of those who survived and are still with us today, to let them live out their lives in dignity, respect and love”, said Yudit Setz. “We will continue to do so with the help of God and of those He is calling to support this sacred work.”

We invite you to partner with us in making a difference in the lives of Holocaust survivors today. Learn more about how you can help by clicking here!


Share this: