Holocaust Survivors Meet, Socialize and Dance at Café Europa
This need to find meaning and feel connected, especially with other Nazi victims who share similar experiences, is critical for Holocaust survivors and one that is made possible by Café Europa and its partnership with the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County.
Café Europa is an annual event that brings together a large group of survivors for some relaxed socializing, a nosh, and a song. It is modeled after the informal get-togethers that arose in Europe following the end of the Holocaust, when Jewish Survivors began their search to find members of their families or hometowns that had also survived.
Café Europa provides Nazi victims with a social framework and comfortable environment where they can be entertained and make friends among their peers. The sense of participating in events collectively is extremely important to the Holocaust victim population, as the isolation many feel now is in complete contrast to how they felt when they were younger, even in the worst of circumstances.
As one Holocaust survivor said, “When we had to stand at attention for hours, we stood together, propping up one another when weak. When we dug ditches we did it together, one holding and moving the arms and shovel for another who didn’t have strength that day. We were desperate, but never alone.”
Café Europa is partially funded by The Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany and private donations, and is supported by Federation and is coordinated by The Alpert Jewish Family & Children’s Service (AJFCS), which hosted close to 400 Palm Beach County residents at Temple Torah on December 12, 2013, including more than 25 community volunteers. The event included a Motzi blessing by Rabbi Bernstein, brief remarks by Harold Gottschall, a hidden child survivor and board member of AJFCS and an opportunity for attendees to dance, talk and spend time with their support network.
“There is nothing more core to our mission as an organization than supporting survivors and providing them dignity,” said Jenni Frumer, Associate Executive Director of Alpert Jewish Family & Children’s Services (AJFCS), a partner agency of the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County.