Café Europa: Reunited and It Feels So Good!

Clients of Café Europa, JFSLA’s social program for survivors of the Holocaust, recently reunited in person after more than a year and half apart. As of October 5th, 2021, Café Europa’s weekly gatherings are back in person on Tuesdays at JFS Gunther-Hirsh Family Center and on Thursdays at the JFS Valley Storefront. Together again, they laughed, sang, and danced together.

“Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, our weekly Café Europa gatherings were the highlight of the week for many survivors to come and see their friends, kibbitz together, laugh, have food, and be entertained in person by musicians who sang to them in Yiddish, Hebrew, Russian as well as singing American standards,” said Heather Angel, MSW, Director of Survivors of the Holocaust Program and Valley Storefront Senior Center. “The return of in person weekly Café Europa events in the City and in the Valley has brought survivors back together to see their friends, feel connected to one another, and feel joy as the music is being played.”

Throughout the pandemic, Café Europa clients have interacted with each other virtually thanks to the JFS LIFE@Home platform. But after more than a year of only having online connections, the survivors were elated to see their friends in person again, and to be able to embrace and feel physically close to each other.

“It’s amazing being with my Café Europa family in person,” remarked Café Europa client Marina Gold, as she asked to have pictures from the event sent to her so she could post them on her Facebook account.

“Many of our survivors expressed feelings of being socially isolated and lonely during the pandemic,” said Susan Belgrade, LCSW, Senior Director of Multipurpose and Senior Centers. “Having in person meetings has rekindled feelings of connectedness, has brought a great deal of joy into the hearts of survivors and provides the opportunity to share good times again.”

JFSLA is proud to be able to provide the space for social connections and to create a community of caring for survivors of the Holocaust.

To learn more about our services for survivors of the Holocaust, click here.

Generous funding for Café Europa is provided by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, Inc., the Morgan Aging with Dignity Fund, the Ziering Family Foundation and other private grants.