Holocaust Survivors’ Centre members return to meet in person

16 Aug 2021

Members of Jewish Care’s Holocaust Survivors’ Centre were delighted to be back together again for activities in-person last week when the centre reopened in its new location at the Maurice and Vivienne Wohl Campus in Golders Green. This was the first time that the group had been able to see each other in 18 months, since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The members started the day with coffee, cake and a chance to catch up, before enjoying a general knowledge quiz, entertaining readings which had everyone laughing, followed by lunch.

Francine Liebert, Jewish Care’s Holocaust Survivors’ Centre and JC Presents Programmer, said:  "We're delighted to be back with the team and welcome all of our members who we've kept in touch with over the last 18 months. The survivors are incredible people. They have put down new roots and started afresh to make amazing contributions to the communities they live in. It was very special to see everyone again – there was a wonderful and unique atmosphere.

“We’re looking forward to meeting again for Yiddish in person next week as before, and to starting our regular art classes. We also have celebrations planned before Rosh Hashanah and we’ll be joining all of our friends across our community centres and care homes with JC Presents online for a pre-Rosh Hashanah party too."

Vera Schaufeld MBE, member of the Holocaust Survivors’ Centre, and who arrived in the UK at the age of 9 on Kindertransport said, “It's good to be back for a social occasion. I've been keeping busy on Zoom calls with speakers interviewed by Francine and I’ve been joining the Keep Fit and drama online, but it’s really good to see everyone again today.”

Vera’s friend, Rene Inow, also a member of the Holocaust Survivors’ Centre, and who also arrived on Kindertransport at the age of 10, agrees. She says, "I was looking forward to being back. We've been very warmly welcomed and it's good to see our friends and the staff again. The staff from the Holocaust Survivors’ Centre have been marvellous through this time."

Before the reopening, another member, Kurt Marx BEM, said, "I’ve been 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, “Jewish Care’s Holocaust Survivors’ Centre is a lifesaver for me, it’s a second home. 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.

“The older we get the more we need each other. When you’re young, you’re so busy living. Now I 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 anything for granted, and that includes people we love. We all have to work at it.”

From now through to October, the organisation is carefully and safely reopening all of the dementia day centres, community centres and Connect@ services. Jewish Care’s Meals on Wheels, telephone befriending, online activities and social work and family carers support services will all still be available to support the community.

Jewish Care’s JC Presents online programme and events, which are attended by hundreds of older people each week in the community will continue, along with the befriending services and Meals on Wheels.

Safety is still the priority, and the organisation will follow enhanced infection control practices and regular Covid testing for staff and volunteers, who will wear masks indoors throughout the centres to protect clients, staff and volunteers.