Life in the Haifa Home After October 7 – An Update

By: Yudit Setz

Haifa home volunteers and residents - ICEJ

In a recent update, Yudit Setz reflects that life is not the same after the 7th of October, especially in the Haifa Home for Holocaust Survivors. The uncertainty of what will happen, the emotional roller-coaster with the release of only some of the hostages, the daily news of fallen soldiers, and the continuing preparation for all possible scenarios of this war in the north keeps everyone busy and tense.

International Holocaust Memorial Day was marked on the 25th of January in the Haifa Home in the presence of consuls and ambassadors from many nations to show their support of the Jewish people. We were all moved by Mania, a Haifa Home resident and Holocaust survivor who shared her powerful story of hope in the face of such adversity. It was a sobering event as she reflected on how, after the 7th of October, somehow the words “Never Again” seemed to have lost their meaning. See Manya’s story included in this documentary below.

Workshops for War:
ICEJ organized different workshops for our team and caregivers of the residents. The workshops were about first aid in times of war and how to deal with trauma. The interactive workshops were very helpful and fun at the same time.

Haifa Home first aid workshop - ICEJ

The Fitness Room:
A fitness room was opened next to our physiotherapy room. With a lot of thought and creativity Simcha, our physiotherapist, created beautiful surroundings using bright colours and many plants and equipment that encourages our elderly residents to remain active and mobile. Even residents of almost 100 and 101 are enjoying the experience, which is good for their body but also a joy to their souls.

Haifa Home fitness centre tiles

Therapy Through Art:
Nancy, an art therapist, comes once a week and does art therapy with individual people that are homebound and also with little groups. Since the war, the whole nation has experienced trauma, heightened stress, and depression. In response to this and to support the residents, we have expanded our creative therapy program. Already, we have witnessed symptoms of depression and anxiety alleviated through these art therapy sessions. This month, the sessions focused on Tu B’shvat (the new year of trees). One of the activities was painting almond trees, which are the first trees to blossom during this season. This helped to redirect their attention from the tragedies Israel is facing and the loss of life they have witnessed to the beauty of creation and new life.

Haifa Home Art Therapy workshop
Haifa Home Art therapy resident

Israeli Arab Visitors:
A group of Israeli Arab children (7 till 9 years old) came to visit the Home accompanied by the staff of the program they are part of and some of the parents, to bring presents to the residents. We had prepared pages from a colour book and coloured pencils, so together with the residents the children had much fun colouring. The love that was exchanged was precious to behold. The children had such a good time, and the residents just loved them. A wonderful example of co-existence in our city Haifa where Jews and Arabs live in peace together. A true light amid so much darkness today.

In fact, back in September as Israel entered the High Holidays, beginning with Rosh Hashanah, Israeli Arab pastor Saleem Shalash and his church in Nazareth were especially keen to reach out to Holocaust survivors. In the week leading up to the holiday, the church team eagerly prepared 110 holiday gift parcels and set out to visit and distribute them to Holocaust survivors in Nof HaGalil and the residents of the ICEJ’s assisted-living home for survivors in Haifa. Yudit noted that the visit also touched the Holocaust survivors very deeply and they urged Saleem and his church team to, “Please come and visit us again!”

Israeli Arab children visit haifa home

We are excited to now be renovating the Haifa Home dining hall. After years of wear and tear with broken ceilings, chipped paint, and exposed wiring, with your support, we have been able to start renovations. Through connections in the area, we have hired Maya, a recent Russian immigrant with a degree in engineering and experience in interior design, to lead the renovation in the home as her first project in Israel!

Renovated dining hall in Haifa Home - ICEJ

Keeping their voices alive:
In Israel today, there are 137,401 Holocaust survivors and victims of antisemitic harassment during the Holocaust who are still alive and living in the land. Their ages range from 77 to 111 years old, and 62% are women. We want to keep their stories alive, to support them, and to stand with them in this dark hour.

How you can help is by clicking the link below to learn more and give to the Haifa Home for Holocaust Survivors. 

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