IN THE NEWS: Special guest attends Café Europa
Jun 18, 2013
Florida State Representative Kevin Rader showed up and schmoozed with Holocaust survivors during last week's Café Europa luncheon at B'nai Torah Congregation in Boca Raton, sponsored and hosted by Ruth Rales Jewish Family Service.
Rader was there to explain details of the Holocaust Victims Assistance Act that he sponsored in the Florida House, which was signed on June 7 by Governor Rick Scott. The bill permits the Department of Financial Services (DFS), also known as the CFO's Office, to expand its assistance to Holocaust survivors beyond recovery of insurance claims to include seeking restitution for Nazi-confiscated bank accounts, art, and other property or assets. The change permits DFS to explore new sources of restitution for Holocaust survivors.
"This bill educates Holocaust survivors as to the restitution process," Rader said. "The funds are tremendously needed. A great percentage of Holocaust survivors live below the poverty line."
Rader, a member of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Anti-Defamation League, B'nai Torah Congregation, Democratic Club of Boca Raton and Democratic Club of Boynton Beach, has a personal interest in the welfare of Holocaust survivors.
"My grandmother talked about relatives who were thrown into the ovens," he said. "I think every Jewish family across the world is affected by the Holocaust," he said.
Danielle N. Hartman, president and CEO of Ruth Rales Jewish Family Service welcomed Rader's visit to Café Europa.
"We are so proud that our own Rep. Rader introduced this legislation which allows the DFS to expand its assistance to Holocaust survivors beyond recovery of insurance claims to include bank accounts, art and other property," she said. "Ruth Rales Jewish Family Service (JFS) already partners with DFS to inform as many Holocaust survivors as possible about the existing legislation. We will now be able to broaden the scope which will help so many apply for the funds they deserve."
Café Europa is a twice-yearly event where hundreds of local Holocaust survivors gather to socialize and remember as they enjoy a free Kosher luncheon. Seated by their area of origin, survivors reconnect and reminisce. Several have reconnected with others they had not seen for nearly 60 years. In the last few years, up to 500 Holocaust survivors have attended.
Ruth Rales Jewish Family Service hosts the event, made possible by Jewish Federation donors at The Polo Club and through a grant from The Conference on Jewish Materials Claims Against Germany.
"Studies have shown that socialization plays a vital part in the overall health of aging seniors. Programs like Café Europa provide socialization for isolated Holocaust survivors who may not have many opportunities to interact with anyone, most importantly other Holocaust survivors, on a regular basis," Hartman said.
"Events like this provide a safe, welcoming environment for survivors to interact with each other while at the same time helping JFS educate the community about the services we provide to this beloved segment of our population," she noted.
Dasha Tucker, 69, who attended Café Europa, said she was born in a concentration camp in Slovakia.
"I think I am the youngest Holocaust survivor," she said.
Tucker said her mother was an actress in Vienna who was interred in what she called a "fake" concentration camp. Tucker carries a portfolio of photos showing her and her parents at the camp dressed in nice clothing and looking well fed.
"The camp was one of the phony concentration camps to show the Red Cross how well Jews were being treated," the Boca Raton resident said.
Survivors Sam Flapan, 84, and his wife Rachel Rosenberg, 85, of Boca Raton also attended Café Europa.
"It's a good idea to bring Holocaust survivors together," Rosenberg said, "where we can talk with other survivors."
Flapan agreed. "We always talk about the Holocaust," he said. "How can you not?"
For more information on the Holocaust Victims Assistance Act, call 1-800-388-4069.
Ruth Rales Jewish Family Service (JFS) offers help, hope and humanity through a comprehensive range of programs and services which support people of all ages and beliefs. With locations in Boca Raton and Delray Beach, JFS programs and services include food and financial assistance, senior services, counseling and mental health services and many volunteer opportunities. Funding is provided by private and corporate support, grants, special events and individuals who reach thousands in need each year. For more information, contact 561-852-3333 or visit www.ruthralesjfs.org.