IN THE NEWS: Survivors gather at Café Europa

Randall P. Lieberman, Staff Writer

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Jun 16, 2014

Philip Friend, 85, of Boca Raton looks forward to the Café Europa gatherings hosted at B'nai Torah Congregation in Boca Raton every six months.

"I get to see my friends and to reminisce with the other survivors," Friend said.

Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services, headquartered on the campus of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County in Boca Raton, holds Café Europa events every June and December at B'nai Torah Congregation.

At these events, hundreds of local Holocaust survivors gather to socialize and remember as they enjoy a Kosher luncheon free of charge. They get seated by their area of origin, and reconnect and reminisce with other survivors.

With many Holocaust survivors becoming too frail to come out for the luncheon, the numbers of survivors able to come from the Federation's Boca Raton/Delray Beach/Highland Beach target area is going way down, said Rales JFS president and CEO Danielle Hartman at the latest Café Europa event on June 3.

"With the numbers of survivors able to come out for the luncheon from our main service area going way down, we opened up this Café Europa to residents from Boynton Beach to the north and from Deerfield Beach to the south," Hartman said. "We had 340 survivors this June, down from a high of around 450."

This Rales JFS Café Europa was sponsored by individual donors from The Polo Club, Boca Home Care, and a grant from The Conference on Jewish Materials Claims Against Germany.

The donors at The Polo Club — a country club bordering Boca Raton and Delray Beach — are Federation Mitzvah Project volunteers and fundraisers.

Said Martin Lifton, Polo Club Mitzvah Project co-chair: "Thanks to the wonderful Café Europa program of Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services, Holocaust survivors in the Boca Raton/Delray Beach/Highland Beach area have the opportunity to gather together in a safe environment, often reuniting with lost friends and loved ones.

"Polo Club volunteers, on behalf of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, recently raised several thousand dollars to sponsor the Café Europa luncheon for three consecutive June luncheons. It makes us feel so good at Polo to be able to make a difference in people's lives and to provide a meaningful experience for this special group of seniors."

For more information about the Café Europa events for Rales JFS, call 561-852-3333.

Jewish social-service organizations in other areas of South Florida also have Café Europa events aimed at Holocaust survivors.

In Broward County, Jewish Family Services (JFS) of Broward County provides multiple, smaller Café Europas so that they are easier for survivors to get to. If you want more information about the JFS Café Europa program, call 954-370-2140.

In Northern Palm Beach County, the Ferd & Gladys Alpert Jewish Family & Children's Services (AJFCS) holds an annual Café Europa in December that brings together a large group of survivors for relaxed socializing, a nosh and song. If you would like to be included in the next AJFCS Café Europa, call 561-684-1991.

Copyright © 2014, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services (JFS) provides 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, career & employment 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 about JFS call 561-852-3333. Learn more at www.ralesjfs.org.

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