Inspiration comes in many forms. In this case is comes in the form of lonely Holocaust survivors. What is confusing is the light that shines from these soon to be extinct, G-d willing never to happen again people. How can they be so happy? They have been through the unimaginable, some living dire poverty, alone and very lonely. Yet when one goes to visit one of them, not only does one feel inspired by the survivor but life takes on new meaning and you’ll never be the same again.
For the young men from the Keshet Yehuda Aliyah and Integration program a program that helps Jewish men ages 17-20 who are new immigrants to Israel or planning to become one prepare for the IDF and life in Israel, it’s a wonderful way to begin their lives in Israel.
Every other week the boys studying at Keshet Yehuda, a religious pre-military academy in the Golan Heights drive an hour and a half and fight traffic to get to the homes of Holocaust survivors, bringing money, food, medicine, medical supplies or whatever the survivor needs. The boys also clean and fix up the survivors’ homes and, most importantly, help relieve the painful loneliness by sitting and listening to the survivor.
It’s all made possible due to an organization called LeChaim to Life! (http://www.lechaimtolife.org)
LeChaim is the brainchild of Daniel Braun and Shuki Kastenbaum, both children of holocaust survivors. Daniel is the main organizer and fundraiser while Shuki makes sure the donations get to the survivors with red tape!
“It bothers me to see big organizations with lots of money take so long to get anything done. All the bureaucracy, red tape, paper work, enough! “We are a small organization with very little moving parts. That’s why things get done. No bureaucracy or red tape. No forms to fill out. We see what needs to be done and just get it done without delay.” Daniel pointed out.
“There have been many times we walk into a home of a survivor, see something that needs to be taken care and by the next day it’s taken care of. Why just last week we installed 4 air conditioners to survivors suffering the summer heat. No one seemed to care, until we came in. These poor people never had air conditioning in their lives. Now these wonderful people can be comfortable and protected against the heat and cold!” Braun added.
When it comes to taking care of survivors Braun doesn’t take no for an answer and that is why LeChaim has earned its trust and respect. “Survivors have been let down so many times; it’s hard for them to trust anyone. When they first encounter LeChaim, they are on one side hopeful and on the other side skeptical. But, in very short time they find out we are for real!” Daniel said with pride.
This was the first time LeChaim and Keshet worked in Haifa. Usually the boys go to Pardes Chanah also a few hours away from Keshet. The survivors are well taken care now in Pardes Chanah thanks to the LeChaim to Life organization and their donors. Now was time to move on and find more survivors in desperate need.
Haifa a beautiful coastal town and third largest city in Israel and can be very easy to get lost in, but thanks to Riki the person who organized the visits in Haifa the trip was a great success!
This special program helps these young men by connecting to a past when Jews were helpless in the face of the ruthless haters of Jews for just being Jews. It confirms their decision to become Israelis and why they are joining the Israeli army. “As long as I am around, this will not happen again!” Was a firm statement of a soon to be IDF soldier and new immigrant to Israel attending the Keshet program. This reaction is very common amongst the students that participate in the Holocaust survivors program now going into its ninth year.
“That really hurt me to see someone live like that.” Was the initial response from one of the boys following his visit to one of the survivors. He went on speaking with determination “I have a new outlook on things! I feel inside myself that I need to help this person. If I have to lift and carry things all by myself, I will get this woman the help she needs!”
This particular survivor is living in a tiny room and no shower. She sponge baths herself from her sink. She was wearing rags; her home while she kept it clean was in desperate need of repair. But despite all this, she greeted the group with warmth and smiles! All she had was water to offer and that she did! The boys were taken back by this visit and committed amongst themselves to help this woman.
Daniel was informed of the situation. He let the boys know that he will supply the boys everything they need to make the home into a small palace!
The young men were filled joy and with a sense of duty and are making it one of their missions in life to see to it that this survivor will be going from rags to riches! Her home will be remolded by them along with gifts, food, new clothing and most importantly regular visits.
The goal of the holocaust survivor program is to adopt the Survivors for life. So they can live the rest of their lives out in comfort and dignity.
LeChaim to Life! Organization started the Holocaust Survivor program nine years ago with just the Keshet Yehuda boys and now has grown to schools and other academies like Keshet all over Israel adopting lonely holocaust survivors for life.
“Everyone can participate in this holy work. For a donation of $250 a month a survivor can be adopted for life in the LeChaim to Life, way. People can even join together as a group to make up this sum. A wonderful school project too!” Braun explained.
It’s a very worthy project with that is a time bound opportunity, due to their age. The problem is there are many suffering; Daniel and his organization LeChaim are trying to find as many survivors as he can get donations. So don’t delay!
Listen to this Special Aliyah Fever Show…your life will change!