|Immigration to Israel from the former Soviet Union|
How do you solve a problem like Maria?
Every week, volunteers from Helping Hand Coalition (HHC) prepare a meal for Holocaust Survivors. In more than 50 cities across Israel, these 'Shalom Houses' (formerly known as Warm Homes) provide a place for often lonely Holocaust Survivors, to meet and build friendships. "They love flowers," said Martha, one of the volunteers, as she prepares a long banqueting table with candles and foliage from the garden.
"It is very important for them to gather together and have a wonderful meal," Martha's husband Don explains. "They have come [to Israel] older so it is very difficult for them to learn the language. They feel a little bit lost in the society that they were hoping to be their new home."
Alongside the 'Shalom Houses', HHC visit the Survivors in their homes, and bring food supplies and supermarket vouchers to help relieve some of their financial worries and make their remaining years more bearable. When volunteers visited Maria in her home, bringing fruit and vegetables and fresh flowers for the Sabbath, she was overcome and exclaimed, "God has sent you to me."
Miraculously, the Nazi soldiers did not find her and Maria survived the war by wandering from place to place. When the war ended, she returned to her village looking for her mother and sister. But, no one knew anything. None of the Jews survived. Not from Maria's village or any of the surrounding villages. "Only me," sighs Maria.
One of the volunteers asked, "Maria, what does this mean to you tonight?"
"It's a blessing from God," she replied,
"Do you feel at home here?"
"Yes, very much," she replied touching her heart.
|Smiles all around at the Shalom House in Caesarea|
|HHC Director Andre Gasiorowski welcomes the Survivors|
|Singing the old songs at the Shalom House|