From the ashes of the Holocaust to a life of dignity

Photo : Stephen Shames (JFNA)

Photo : Stephen Shames (JFNA)

“I live all alone now. I couldn’t stay in my home if I didn’t have help to take care of myself. Because of you, I live with dignity.” Hazel, 87, came to Montreal from a displaced persons camp in Europe immediately following the Holocaust with the help of the Federation. She never forgot the support she got from the community when things looked their worst. Now, the prospect of moving into an assisted living facility upsets her. Hazel feels comfortable living alone, but she is more frail than she used to be. She worries about falling and she isn’t able to clean as vigorously as she’d like or to shop for, and cook, the foods she enjoys. Thanks to support services available through the Cummings Jewish Centre for Seniors, she is able to receive Meals on Wheels and social workers check in on her regularly, giving her the confidence and security to remain in her home.

More than 6,500 Holocaust survivors live in Montreal. They have endured a lot in their lifetime. They ought to be able to age with peace of mind and dignity.

 As living witnesses to history’s worst genocide, survivors have valuable lessons to teach about tolerance and the great evil of anti-Semitism. They can put a human face on the appalling statistic of 6 million murders. Many survivors meet with students at the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre and Cummings Jewish Centre for Seniors to discuss their experiences. In telling their personal stories, they can reinforce the values of multiculturalism and respect for all that are among the hallmarks of life in Quebec and Canada.

An overwhelming concern for all seniors is how to maintain their capacity to live independently. With relatively little help, many could live in their own homes, rather than having to move to assisted living facilities. The social workers at the Cummings Jewish Centre for Seniors can offer the support that gives seniors the confidence to enjoy their autonomy. Meals on Wheels deliveries ensure that those who don’t have enough mobility to shop for themselves can eat healthy and nutritious meals every day.

In 2010-2011, Federation CJA allocated more than $1.5 million to the Cummings Jewish Centre for Seniors and nearly $320,000 to the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre.