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Holocaust Survivors Celebrate Life at Café Europa

April 26, 2012 By:
Lynn B. Edelman
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A group of survivors sing and dance at a past liberation simcha.

On Monday, May 7, more than 300 Philadelphia-area Holocaust survivors will celebrate life to the fullest at Café Europa, the seventh annual liberation simcha at the Buck Hotel in Feasterville.

The name of this joyful event pays homage to a café in Stockholm, Sweden, where Holocaust survivors came to look for their lost relatives immediately after World War II.

Klezmer clarinetist Bobby Block will perform a medley of dance music during this much-anticipated afternoon program hosted by the Philadelphia Holocaust Survivors Support Program of the Jewish Family and Children's Service of Greater Philadelphia (JFCS).

Café Europa will begin at noon with welcoming remarks from the leadership of JFCS and its partner, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, which helps support this gathering with the assistance of matching funds from the Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference).

The Claims Conference allocates funds to institutions that provide services to Holocaust survivors.

Paula Goldstein, CEO of JFCS, explained that Café Europa is one of many services provided by the agency to Jewish older persons who lived under Nazi rule during World War II to enable them to live at home safely and with comfort and dignity.

"Our social workers provide information and referral, assistance with applying for reparations and other benefits, care management, in-home support, and social opportunities geared to Holocaust survivors," she said, adding that a number of in-home support services are available to assist with activities of daily living as well as emergency grants to assist with one-time expenses related to health care or home maintenance.

"This year, our agency has helped 330 Holocaust survivors receive access to financial assistance with medical or dental needs and equipment, home repairs, applications for reparations, support groups and care management," said Goldstein.

Brian Gralnick, director of Federation's Center for Social Responsibility, explained that Federation has stepped up its support of the Café and other JFCS Holocaust survivor services in response to changes in the manner in which these services are funded by the Claims Conference.

In January 2009, Conference leadership announced that it would support these programs through matching grants, rather than direct grants. "Our increased support of JFCS' Holocaust survivor services comes at a critical juncture -- when these aging men and women require increased services and traditional funding sources have decreased," Gralnick said.

Despite assumptions that the number of survivors are dwindling, JFCS continues to enroll new clients. "It has been estimated that there are more than 3,000 survivors living in the Delaware Valley," Goldstein said, adding that "Café Europa is an important outreach vehicle for communicating with survivors and affording them access to services that may help them to enhance the quality of their lives."

For reservations and free bus transportation to Café Europa or to receive more information about JFCS survivor services, call 267-256-2045.

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