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Holocaust Survivors and their Families Share Wartime Experiences

It has been 74 years since the end of WWII and the liberation of Nazi-occupied Europe. Yet, for the more than 1,600 Circle of Care clients who survived the Holocaust, the emotional and physical scars endure.

As the largest Canadian grant recipient of funds from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, Circle of Care is able to provide services and supports that allow Survivors to maintain dignity and independence as they age. Through the provision of personal support services, delivery of Kosher Meals on Wheels, transportation to-and-from medical visits and errands, and other initiatives that combat the effects of social isolation, Circle of Care’s Holocaust Survivor program aims to support this vulnerable population by addressing social determinants of health.

In addition to promoting their health and well-being, Circle of Care is committed to ensuring Survivors and their families continue to have a voice and a platform for sharing their unimaginable experiences with employees and the community. Recently, in recognition of Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), Circle of Care partnered with Project YOFI, a newcomer youth initiative, to match Survivors with students who are new to Canada.

“It’s important that I share my wartime experiences and pass on my legacy to young people so my story is not forgotten, especially with so many people denying the Holocaust and the rise of anti-Semitism,” said an 87-year-old Survivor who was hidden as a child in order to escape Nazi persecution.

When asked her thoughts on the event, one 16-year-old called the opportunity to speak with a Survivor “an honour.”

“Most people learn about the Holocaust through books, movies, and statistics,” said Yana Zveiris, Holocaust Survivor Services Practice Lead. “But it’s important to learn about the Holocaust through the stories of people because it helps to make it more tangible, and builds a stronger connection to the indescribable tragedies that occurred.”

Circle of Care employees also had the opportunity to hear from author Deborah Levison, daughter of two Holocaust Survivors who emigrated to Canada from Hungary in 1956. The talk was part of Circle of Care’s ongoing effort to help employees better understand the unique challenges and sensitivities that often arise with Survivors and their families. “Growing up, I never knew much about my parents’ history,” said Levison. “I learned most of what I know as an adult, and I am very much haunted by what I do know.”

In 2018, Levison wrote The Crate – a book that wove together her parents’ harrowing wartime experience with a shocking-but-true murder-mystery that once again launched the family into the face of tragedy.