IN THE NEWS: Holocaust Survivors Meet for Nosh & Nachas

Shani_McManus

Jewish Journal (subscription required)

Aug 24, 2015

Holocaust survivors enjoy a line dance at Jewish Family Services’ quarterly “Nosh & Nachas” get together at the Shirley & Barton Weisman Delray Community Center in Delray Beach.

More than 120 local Holocaust survivors recently gathered at the Shirley & Barton Weisman Delray Community Center in Delray Beach for "Nosh & Nachas" or literally, "food and happiness.".

And that's exactly what the quarterly program is all about for the survivors, who are clients of the Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services' (JFS) Senior Services Department.

During "Nosh & Nachas," survivors meet with other survivors, many who have become close friends, and share stories and remember events in ways they can't always communicate to non-survivors. It's also a chance to share good news about their families, close and far away. In addition to a wholesome lunch, attendees sang and danced to live entertainment featuring traditional Jewish melodies.

"The event provides Holocaust survivors the opportunity to socialize with each other, a truly meaningful and valuable experience that fosters kinship and improves their well-being," said Danielle Hartman, JFS president & CEO describing the importance of "Nosh & Nachas."

"Many of the survivors that JFS affords services to are homebound, and were provided with transportation to attend this special event," she noted.

While 95-year-old Alex Varnai sat out the dances, he does enjoy the good company.

"Holocaust survivors are mostly alone, so it's important for them to get out and meet other survivors," the Delray Beach resident said. "I met someone who was in the same concentration camp."

Varnai, a Hungarian who survived a death march where he witnessed friends "being shot" by German soldiers, said Holocaust survivors need to get together.

"It gives us a chance to see each other," he said.

Margaret Vesely, a 94-year-old Holocaust survivor from Hungary lost most of her family members and looks forward to each "Nosh & Nachas" meeting where she has made many new friends.

"I don't know how I'm still here. I went through so much," she said. "It brings all of us [survivors] together. I met someone from my country here, and we didn't even know about each other before."

Vesely, whose husband survived the Holocaust but died several years ago, said it is important for survivors to get together with people who "went through" the same experience.

"These people are the only ones who can understand what we went through," she said. "I hope we don't ever have to go through that again — but, I don't know — it doesn't look so good."

Women's Philanthropy of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County organized a group of volunteers to help out at the event. They spent time helping the guests get seated, engaging them in conversation, dancing and serving lunch.

Nosh & Nachas is held quarterly with the next event tentatively scheduled for Nov. 3.

Local Holocaust survivors in need of assistance or seeking additional information about JFS' Senior Services or Holocaust programs should contact JFS at 561-852-3333 or email info@ralesjfs.org.

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