Jewish Care marks inaugural Holocaust Survivors Day

22 Jun 2021

Jewish Care will be marking the inaugural Holocaust Survivors’ Day, online, with members of the organisation’s Holocaust Survivors’ Centre. The new day for and about survivors, celebrating and honouring their lives, takes place on 26th June, on the birthday of Poland’s most well-known Holocaust survivor, 95-year-old, Marian Turski.

Members of Jewish Care’s Holocaust Survivors’ Centre will be marking the day together on Zoom on Thursday 24th June. Lord Eric Pickles the UK’s Special Envoy of Post Holocaust Issues and the co-chair of the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation, will join members and staff online to talk about the day. The global organisers will also hold online panel discussions on the origin and idea behind the day and include discussions with children and grandchildren of survivors.

“Seventy-five years on from the Holocaust, there are now very few survivors alive from the worst period in human history. I feel that the introduction of the Holocaust Survivor Day is very important,” says Lily Ebert BEM, 97-year-old member of Jewish Care’s Holocaust Survivors’ Centre.

“When I was in Auschwitz, I promised myself ‘If I survive I will tell the world what happened’. I have dedicated my life to Holocaust education and feel positive that I have survived to be able to do this. Now, together with my great grandson I am publishing my memoir - Lily’s Promise - in order to ensure that people know what hate can lead to, so that something like Holocaust can never happen again. I am proud I have seen my wonderful family grow and also join me in fulfilling that promise to pass the legacy of Holocaust education to the next generation.

"I am looking forward to the reopening of Jewish Care's Holocaust Survivor Centre. For the past few decades, the centre has been an important and safe space for survivors to meet and socialise and to enjoy the events that they put on."

Ivor Perl BEM, 89, who has also been a member of Jewish Care’s Holocaust Survivors’ Centre for many years and lives at Jewish Care’s Selig Court Retirement Living apartments in Golders Green, adds, “I think the Holocaust Survivors Day is a tremendous idea. I came here when I was 13 having lost everything and now I look at my family and the life I built and I think it’s wonderful to look and celebrate what we’ve all achieved.

“Jewish Care’s Holocaust Survivors’ Centre is a lifesaver for me, it’s a second home. The older we get the more we need each other. When you’re young, you’re so busy living, when you’re older and you look back and see how much the Holocaust Survivors’ Centre means to us, they do so much for us. And my family are so pleased to know that I’m so well looked after at Selig Court too. I appreciate everything they do for me here to support me to live independently. We must never take people for granted and that includes love. We all have to work at it.”

Jewish Care’s Holocaust Survivors’ Centre is the only place of its kind anywhere in the UK and is set to reopen its doors in August. More than 500 survivors and refugees are supported by Jewish Care by the Centre through a specific programme of social, cultural and therapeutic activities, in the care homes and retirement living apartments. The Shalvata service, with its specialist team offering counselling and social work support, is for those dealing with trauma. Many survivors who attend the centre have built strong friendships there and say they consider it a “home” where they can share experiences with those who understand what they have been through.

Francine Liebert, online events programmer for Holocaust Survivors’ Centre members in the community and in care homes, says, “We will be marking this special day together for the survivors themselves, to celebrate the lives they’ve built. They have put down new roots and started afresh to make amazing contributions to the communities they live in. We look forward to welcoming Lord Pickles to introduce the day and will be sharing our views and feelings together on Zoom.”

In advance of the day, Lord Eric Pickles – UK’s Special Envoy on Post Holocaust Issues adds, “Holocaust Survivor Day is about celebrating life and the achievements of those survivors who decided to make Britain their home. Our nation would not be complete without our Jewish citizens.”