On Tuesday, May 3, more than 300 Philadelphia area Holocaust survivors will schmooze, ess (eat) and be freilich (celebrate) during the sixth annual liberation simcha that become known as Café Europa. The name pays homage to a café in Stockholm, Sweden, where Holocaust survivors came to look for their lost relatives immediately after World War II.
The festive event, which includes a catered luncheon and Yiddish and klezmer music performed by Bobby Block and his orchestra, is hosted by the Philadelphia Holocaust Survivor Community Supportive Services program of the Jewish Family and Children's Service of Greater Philadelphia.
Café Europa will begin at noon at the Buck Hotel in Feasterville. It is funded by JFCS in partnership with the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, with matching funds from the Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference). The Claims Conference allocates funds to institutions that provide services to Holocaust survivors.
According to Paula Goldstein, acting CEO of JFCS, Café Europa is one of many services provided by the agency to Jewish older persons, who lived under Nazi rule during World War II to help them to live at home safely and with comfort and dignity.
"Social workers," she said, "provide information and referral, help with applying for reparations and other benefits, care management, in-home support, and social opportunities geared to Holocaust Survivors."
Goldstein added that a number of in-home support services are available to assist with activities of daily living and emergency grants are available to assist with one-time expenses related to health care or home maintenance. "This year, our agency has helped 330 Holocaust survivors receive access to financial assistance with medical or dental needs and equipment, home repairs, applications for reparations, support groups, and care management," said Goldstein.
Brian Gralnick, director of Federation's Center for Social Responsibility, explained that last year, Federation increased its support of the Café and other JFCS Holocaust survivor services in response to changes in the way that these services are funded by the Claims Conference.
In January 2009, Conference leadership announced that it would support these programs through matching grants, rather than direct grants. "Our increased support of JFCS' Holocaust survivor services comes at a critical juncture — when these aging men and women require increased services and traditional funding sources have decreased," Gralnick said.
Despite assumptions that the number of survivors are dwindling, JFCS continues to enroll new clients. "It has been estimated that there are more than 3,000 survivors living in the Delaware Valley," said Slava Kulikov, program coordinator of the agency's survivor services.
She expressed her firm belief that "Café Europa is an important outreach vehicle for communicating with survivors and affording them access to services that may help them to enhance the quality of their lives."
In 2010, Kulikov said, some 350 survivors attended social events, affording them the opportunity to reduce their isolation and to socialize among friends and peers.
For reservations and free bus transportation for Café Europa or to receive more information about JFCS survivor services, call 267-256-2043.