At age five, Rita fled her home with her family when the Nazis invaded her village in Kotovsk, Ukraine, murdered 113 Jews, and set up a ghetto. Now, at 84, Rita is living through another dangerous period with the Covid crisis — but this time one where Rita feels bound to her home, afraid to leave.
“I’m scared to leave my home,” she says. “You don’t know where to go or who to see because nowhere feels safe.”
That’s why Rita was so grateful when a social worker at Selfhelp, a UJA partner that works with Holocaust survivors, reached out and offered to help her get the Covid-19 vaccination at a Bronx high school. “I’m thankful she called. I didn’t even have to ask, she called me and offered help right away,” Rita says from her Co-Op City apartment in the Bronx.
The social worker helped Rita answer screening questions, schedule an appointment, and even arranged transportation to the vaccination site. On January 19, a very happy Rita got her first dose, finally seeing an end to the months of fear and lockdown. And she’s spreading the word about vaccination to others.
“I didn’t feel anything when getting the injection,” Rita says. “No pain, redness, or swelling. I felt fine. I wasn’t scared, I felt happy to be vaccinated. Now all my friends want to get vaccinated, too, after they saw me go through the process.”