Alexandra, a Holocaust survivor, with groceries purchased for her by the Association for the Immediate Help for Holocaust Survivors.
(photo credit: THE ASSOCIATION FOR IMMEDIATE HELP FOR HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS)
I am afraid to wake up from this dream, Sarah, a 92-year-old Holocaust survivor, told The Jerusalem Post at a supermarket in Ramat Gan.
Sarah was one of dozens of needy or lonely survivors who took part in a “Make a Wish” initiative this week organized by the Association for Immediate Help for Holocaust Survivors.
The initiative aims to fulfill the simple wish and grants a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for countless survivors to go to the grocery store and fill up an entire shopping cart without having to worry about the cost.
“God gives but does not ask in return. He gives with a generous hand. This is a dream and I am afraid to wake up,” Sarah repeatedly said.
Sitting in the middle of the supermarket, taking a break from filling her cart, Sarah was overwhelmed with excitement and gratitude.
“I am tired but I am continuing to enjoy and am receiving so much,” she said.
Continually putting her hand to her heart she thanked the organization’s volunteers for the opportunity and for their “listening ears.”
“I was born in Poland and the Germans came into Poland and killed so many...” she said, unable to finish the sentence. “They killed my parents and I suffered. I was raped by the Germans and I gave birth to a boy.
“But I brought him to Israel and now my son is an engineer,” she proudly said. “The end is that I am in Israel and I am enjoying my life and I am so fortunate. What a day!”
In took more than two hours for Sarah to fill her cart, which was more than three carts in reality, with much needed groceries and supplies.
One of the most prominent items that the survivors’ purchased other than food and toiletries were small heaters, as many are unable to afford the cost of heating in the winter months.
Alexandra, an 87-year-old Holocaust survivor who made aliya from Romania, told the Post
that she had “never had such a fun day in my life.”
Like Sarah, Alexandra was able to fill two carts full of groceries.
“When I walked in here I was a bit afraid, it looked like a factory and I thought I was going to get lost,” she said. “All my life I have only shopped at a very small grocery store near my home and only bought a few things at a time.”
“The phrase ‘whatever you want’ – I have never heard that before in my life,” she said.
Alexandra said she was so grateful to the organization, not only for the grocery shopping, which she called a “miracle for Hanukka,” but also for all the assistance it provides her with year-round.
“For the past four years, since they came into my life, I feel that I am not alone,” she said.
“To the volunteers: Keep doing what you are doing because it means the world to us,” she said wiping away tears.
The ten survivors able to fulfill their wish in the Ramat Gan supermarket were joined by dozens more in Beersheba, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Jerusalem and Haifa’s bayside suburbs.
“The total cost of the day extends into the tens of thousands of shekels,” Tamara More, the director of the organization told the Post.
“It is worth everything to see the joy and excitement it brings the survivors.”
More said the organization, which offers immediate assistance for needy Holocaust survivors, has been running this initiative for nearly a decade after learning of the basic wish of so many of the survivors.
“When we started this project we asked them [survivors] what they wished for,” she explained. “We thought they would say a trip to Japan or even a trip to Eilat, but instead we were surprised to hear over and over again that what they wanted was to go to the supermarket and be able to fill a cart without worrying over how much it will cost.”
More said this seemingly simple desire, which “so many people take for granted, is so important to them” and has become a hallmark initiative of the organization.
“Our organization is based on volunteers and donations only,” she said. “We would like to call on the public to donate, to donate their time, even to come to our center and answer phones for an hour, but to come help the Holocaust survivors.”
For more information or to volunteer, contact the organization’s English hotline at 03-642-9888.