Earlier this week of Hanukkah, Rabbi Tuly Weisz of Israel365 visited Mr. Aharon Siegel, a 93-year old Holocaust survivor. Tragically, Mr. Seigel suffers from dementia and his days are often spent in the dark shadows of his debilitating ailment. Thanks to the supporters of the Israel365 Charity Fund, Rabbi Weisz helped bring some light into Mr. Siegel’s life by lighting Hanukkah candles with him.
“When I got to his home, Mr. Siegel was sitting in his living room, staring at the television screen,” Rabbi Weisz said. “After I set up the Hanukkah candles, he was wheeled over to the Menorah and visibly cheered up as we lit the candles together. Even though he has short term memory problems, the light of the Menorah triggered something in his soul and he recited the blessings and sang the traditional songs in a loud, strong voice by memory!”
There are over 200,000 Holocaust survivors in Israel today, all over the age of eighty, many of whom have Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia, or other debilitating ailments that make it difficult or even impossible for them to care for themselves. The Israel365 Charity Funds provides therapy for many Holocaust Survivors suffering from dementia on an ongoing basis.
One of the disturbing effects of mental deterioration for Holocaust Survivors is that they get stuck in the most traumatic period of their lives.
“As devastating as this sounds, it is so much worse for our precious Holocaust Survivors,” Rabbi Weisz explained. “Some of the people we help are literally stuck in the concentration camps. Just as they were tortured during the Holocaust, they are stuck again in that horrible reality, hidden away from the rest of the world.”
That is why the Israel365 Charity Fund is assisting this special population right now. “We cannot abandon these precious souls. We are working to improve their quality of life, to visibly show them that they have not been abandoned, that the world does care,” said Rabbi Tuly.
“It gave me goosebumps,” Rabbi Weisz said. “Here is a man who can’t remember what happened five minutes ago but when he saw the Hanukkah lights, he immediately returned to his youth more than 80 years ago, celebrating a joyous festival with his family.”
“The hymn we sang together, called “Maoz Tzur” is about the eternity of the Jewish people and our ability to overcome adversity,” Rabbi Weisz explained. “And here, in the simple act of lighting candles, I was witnessing the strength of this man. The Nazis did not succeed in extinguishing the light of his soul.”
This winter in particular, on account of the cold weather and the Corona Pandemic, is especially difficult for the elderly in Israel, who are often trapped in their apartments.
To help fix up the homes of Holocaust Survivors in Israel and help them prepare for the winter, please donate to the Israel365 Charity Fund today.