IN THE NEWS: Survivors gather at Café Europa
South Florida Sun Sentinel (subscription required)
Jun 2, 2015
Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services, the Boca Raton-based Jewish social-services agency, held its semi-annual gathering and luncheon for local Holocaust survivors, Café Europa, at B'nai Torah Congregation in Boca Raton on Tuesday, June 2, 2015. More than 350 people — comprised of Holocaust survivors and their spouses or aides — attended the event.
Like the previous Café Europa last December, many Holocaust survivors joined the event from northern Broward County and the Boynton/Lake Worth areas in addition to the agency's main service areas of Boca Raton and Delray Beach.
Attendees were treated to a luncheon while the Holocaust Survivor Band provided entertainment. At times there were large crowds on the dance floor as couples and groups of circle dancing occurred throughout the event.
The highlight for many came later in the program where survivors connected with other survivors from their hometowns in Europe.
One example of that were Marion Sutton of Delray Beach, and Barbara Nieder, of Boca Raton, both of whom were from Berlin. Though they had never met before, the two became fast friends with much in common.
Sutton said: "It was a pleasure to meet someone from my hometown when I hadn't run into anyone from Berlin in a long time. We seem to really hit it off well and plan to meet again in the future. I liked that it was a very happy event, with everyone dancing and all."
Added Nieder: "It was very interesting meeting someone from Berlin. I look forward to staying in touch with her. It was my very first time at Café Europa at B'nai Torah and I loved the atmosphere. The place where we were sitting was really beautiful."
While there were no reunions of long-lost friends at Café Europa this year, Rosalyn Haber and Eva Braun, both of Boca Raton, enjoyed sitting next to one another at Café Europa this year after reuniting in December of 2013.
Haber and Braun had lived together for ten months 68 years before as 14-year-olds in the Unterluss forced labor camp for women and girls in Germany, where they both lived in the number 8 barracks for children from Munkács, Czechoslovakia (Haber was actually from Munkács; and Braun, who was from Hungary, had snuck into that barracks to be near a cousin).
Haber and Braun were then sent together to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp together in Germany, where they were liberated by British soldiers in 1945 and went their separate ways.
Since reuniting at Café Europa, Haber and Braun have continued to keep in touch.
Haber said: "We talk on the phone and also get together."
Added Braun: "it is still unbelievable we met again after so many years."
Event sponsors were Marilyn and Stanley Barry from the Polo Club development in Boca Raton/Delray Beach (Federation Diamond Luncheon sponsors), as well as numerous other generous Federation donor sponsors from the Polo Club.
In addition, the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany ("The Claims Conference") also provides financial support for Café Europa.
Event transportation (buses transporting survivors to and from) was underwritten by Quality Family Care.
Said Danielle Hartman, JFS president and CEO: "We are most thankful to all our event sponsors. Their generosity allows us to provide these wonderful events for our community's survivors. This event is a highlight for many Holocaust survivors and provides them the sense of community and satisfaction of being."
Added Polo Club donor/official Clifford Seresky: "The Polo Club is committed to making sure that these Café Europa events continue. We have an obligation as Jews to take care of these Holocaust survivors."
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, vocational training, 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 volunteer opportunities and services for seniors, contact 561-852-3333. Learn more at www.ralesjfs.org.