The events of October 7, alongside the intense fighting and missile attacks on Israel, have adversely affected Holocaust survivors in Israel. Since then, they have been going through difficult days filled with worries and deep anxieties.
This week, Holocaust survivors came together in a united, emotional, and chilling call to bring back all the hostages from Gaza, including infants, children, youth, women, the elderly, and fellow Holocaust survivors. In a meeting held this week at the ‘Habait Hacham’ for Holocaust Survivors in Haifa, survivors discussed their difficult feelings during these days, expressing deep shock over the events of October 7. They decided to take every possible step to help bring the kidnapped and the captives back home.
"It took me many long years to start believing and hoping that we would not relive the Holocaust. And here, with deep sorrow and a heavy, aching heart, I admit that I was wrong. Not only did the Holocaust return, but it is also as merciless as ever," said Naomi Lichtwitz, 91, a Holocaust survivor who came to Israel, established a family, and now resides in the ‘Habait Hacham’ meaning ‘Warm Home’ for Holocaust Survivors of the ‘Yad Ezer Lachaver’ Association in Haifa.
"The feeling is ominous," says Naomi Lichtwitz. "I never thought that in my lifetime, I would witness shows and atrocities like we saw in the Holocaust. We have captives, and we don't know where they are. It reminds me of my time in the ghetto when we were crowded in one place with the daily threat, not knowing what would happen to us."
"What they did on October 7 is worse than the Nazis," she added.
"I survived the Holocaust, and I thought to myself that this is the end of all evil in the world. But I never imagined that I would hear and see again that there are things worse than what the Nazis did," said Eliza Marmelstein, 93, from Poland, who survived the Lodz Ghetto.
"And this is what Hamas did. Is there anything worse than this?" she asked. "I have seen many wars and many horrors, and many inhumane acts by other humans, but such inhuman behavior, like what Hamas did on October 7, I never imagined in my worst nightmares."
Rita Berkovich, 91, who was in the Death March from Romania and came to Israel after the war, said, "To kill people, what kind of heart do human beings have to take small children and murder them, take them captive? How can such a thing be done? All the friends in the Warm Home cry here every day," added Naomi Lichtwitz. "We pray that all the kidnapped will be released."
The recent period has brought Holocaust survivors back to the terrible days and the difficult memories they tried so hard to suppress over the years.
"When I hear sirens now, I think I'm screaming again in Auschwitz. I tremble, and I cry. I'm even afraid to open the door, afraid that God forbid, a terrorist might come," said another survivor.
"We must unite here and around the world and call for the return of all the kidnapped. We call on Holocaust survivors worldwide and also on people who are second-generation survivors to join us and call on all world leaders to help bring back all our kidnapped ones. We will not rest until they return home," said Shimon Sabag, founder and CEO of the ‘Warm Home’ for Holocaust Survivors.
“Holocaust survivors are now going through difficult days. The harsh events exposed to them have set them back. Here in our association, we do everything to envelop them with warmth and love, help and assist. Here, they feel more secure and protected. All of us, all our teams, stand by the side of Holocaust survivors and join the call to bring all the captives back home.”
Tali Libman is an Israeli journalist.