Dozens of Holocaust survivors living in Jerusalem gathered Monday in a small
park in the capital’s upscale Rehavia neighborhood to celebrate Succot, in a
succa next to a refurbished bomb shelter that also serves as their community
The shelter was renovated about two years ago with over $400,000
in funding from The Jerusalem Prayer Team, a Christian Evangelical organization
based in Texas and led by international best-selling author, journalist and
humanitarian Dr. Mike Evans.
Evans’s organization acquired the
once-abandoned and dilapidated shelter, built in the 1950s, through the
Jerusalem Municipality with the goal of providing shelter and companionship for
the city’s dwindling community of Holocaust survivors.
“We decided to
turn it into a community center as well as a bomb shelter,” said Evans, as he
stood by a succa adjacent to the bunker’s entrance.
“The fact that it’s a
bomb shelter is comforting for them because they’ve been traumatized and it’s a
place they can feel safe and be together,” he said.
“If war ever comes,
they’ll have the best shelter in Israel,” he added with a smile.
decked out with flatscreen TVs, an electric chair lift, fully stocked kitchen,
air conditioning, art, bathrooms, couches and chairs, the space is the
Ritz-Carlton of bomb shelters compared to its countless austere, no-frills
counterparts throughout the country.
It is also now inhabited during the
High Holy Days, as well as for weekly gatherings, by The Group of Holocaust
Survivors in Jerusalem, created six years ago by child survivor
Dr. Lilian Glazer.
Glazer, who immigrated from the Ukraine during
the Yom Kippur War with her husband and two children, spearheaded the group six
years ago to aid the roughly 110 Holocaust survivors living in the capital –
many of whom are in need of meals, medical attention and
The project is entirely funded by The Jerusalem Prayer
Team, she said.
“Every few months, Michael comes to visit us,” said
Glazer, a practicing gynecologist. “He is part of our family, and we feel so
proud of this connection because we are the last generation [of survivors] and
he helps us be together and feel safe.”
Evans said his organization never
hesitates to write a check for a member in need.
“I ask Lillian what she
needs, and we do it,” said Evans. “For us, it’s a blessing. These are very
beautiful people. How can you not be happy seeing Holocaust survivors so joyful
– at a bomb shelter, no less?” Glazer said the majority of the survivors in her
organization are from the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, living alone
in meager surroundings.
“They celebrate all the holidays here, and it
gives them a sense of purpose,” she said.
“That’s a gift for all of
Alexander Vishnevetsky, a survivor from the Ukraine who also works
as a journalist, said he attended all the events at the facility and was
comforted by the group’s shared history.
“We’re the last generation [of
survivors], and I’m happy I can meet my friends who are in the same situation,”
“We can sing songs, listen to our music and speak to
each other in Yiddish,” he said.
“This makes us happy.”
The Jerusalem Prayer Team had also renovated a bomb shelter in Haifa for
survivors living in the North.
“My prayer is that this will be an
inspiration for others to do the same throughout the country,” he said.
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