A Taste of History at Café Europa

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Sam Burke, a local survivor, and Norman Barr, a senior companion, socialize at Café Europa.

“They’re our teachers. We can learn so much from them.”

The people who lived through the horrifying events of the Holocaust will never forget the family and friends they lost – their own past, nearly wiped away. But the dark times of the Holocaust are brightened a bit every Wednesday with Café Europa, a Holocaust survivors program through Jewish Family Service Association (JFSA), a Federation partner.

“They’re here with people who understand them,” said Gilda Katz, Coordinator of Holocaust Survivor Support Services at JFSA. “They become an extended family to each other; it’s very nurturing for them.”

Café Europa is a weekly gathering where local Cleveland Holocaust survivors are able to meet, mingle and be entertained at the Federation’s Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Building. “It’s a good feeling to know we’re remembered, we’re looked after in the Jewish community and through this organization,” said Sam Burke, a Holocaust survivor and member of the Café Europa group.

“They come here for socialization, they’re with their peers, but it gives me such pleasure to be with them,” said Norman Barr, a Café Europa senior companion. “I started as just a companion to them, but now – we’re friends.”

From movie showings, Yiddish singing, craft projects, as well as spiritual rabbi visits and holiday celebrations – Café Europa is a way for survivors to remember and reflect on the past, but contribute as thriving members of the Jewish community here in Cleveland.

An estimated 1,100 Holocaust survivors live in the Cleveland area; Federation is a lifeline to basic needs such as food and medicine as well as social interaction and transportation needs. Whether survivors are living locally, nationally or internationally, our Cleveland community is there to help this vulnerable population age with dignity.

“I’m so proud of what we have in Cleveland; the Federation and the community really care about these people and they can feel that,” added Katz. “They’re our teachers. We have to learn from them. We can learn so much from them.”

The Jewish Federation of Cleveland graciously hosts JFSA’s Café Europa program, which is made possible by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.

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