Stories & Voices
Rae, 97, Holocaust Survivor, Gets Phone Support and Advocacy Through Gural JCC During These Days of Coronavirus
March 31st, 2020

Rae, 97, was one of seven children who lived in Czechoslovakia when World War II broke out.

She has often shared her story as a Holocaust survivor with students in the Five Towns. How her family was packed into cattle cars bound for Auschwitz. How after the cattle cars were unloaded, Rae never saw her mother and three little brothers again. How she and 500 other girls were sent to the gas chamber, with the cold cement floor beneath their feet. How the gas chamber malfunctioned and Rae and the other girls’ lives were spared. How Rae, along with her father and older brother survived the death march.

Rae immigrated to the U.S., raised a family, and now lives on her own in the Five Towns, with the help of a home health aide. She is a participant in Chaverim and the L’Chaim Group, two weekly programs for Holocaust survivors at the Marion & Aaron Gural JCC in Cedarhurst, a UJA partner. Chaverim is an enrichment program that brings survivors together in a family-like atmosphere. The L’Chaim Group is for survivors with cognitive impairment. Both are essential lifelines offering support and joy, including singing Yiddish songs together, socializing, and enjoying Jewish traditions.

Rae still has a remarkable capacity to express concern and care for her friends and family. She often says, “We need to reach out to each other.”

Now with the coronavirus outbreak, the Gural JCC is closed and Rae can no longer attend her weekly groups. Gural JCC staff reaches out twice weekly to Rae through phone calls. The staff is doing all they can to ensure Rae’s emotional, physical, and social well-being. Rae deeply appreciates these phone calls.