Holocaust Survivors & Seniors Celebrate Rosh Hashanah

Throughout the month of September, JFSLA’s Senior and Multipurpose Centers hosted Rosh Hashanah festivities for members of Café Europa, JFSLA’s social group for survivors of the Holocaust, and participants in the JFS Arts, Wellness, and Engagement (AWE) Program. 

JFSLA’s AWE Program offers engaging wellness activities, fitness classes, education and art classes, and social events to 500 seniors weekly throughout the Los Angeles community. On September 7, more than 100 seniors celebrated Rosh Hashanah at JFSLA’s Jona Goldrich Multipurpose Center. Seniors enjoyed a catered meal, a lecture about the traditions of Rosh Hashanah, and a musical performance. More than 40 seniors also attended Rosh Hashanah celebrations at JFSLA’s Valley Storefront Community Resource Center and the BAR Center at the Beach.

“Our Rosh Hashanah celebrations were open to all older adults in the community, including survivors of the Holocaust,” said Susan Belgrade, JFSLA Senior Director of Multipurpose and Senior Centers. “We were happy to celebrate, but we were also excited to share and educate the community about social services, transportation, nutrition, and activities offered to older adults at JFSLA.”

Through JFSLA’s Survivors of the Holocaust Program, JFSLA provides nearly 1,000 survivors with caregiver services, supportive resources, emergency financial assistance, and Café Europa, JFSLA’s weekly social connection program. To spread joy during Rosh Hashanah, JFSLA sent Café Europa members a special Rosh Hashanah gift box that included a challah, grape juice, a honey jar, honey cake, and a Shana Tova greeting card.

Nearly 50 Café Europa members celebrated Rosh Hashanah at JFSLA’s Jona Goldrich Multipurpose Center and the Valley Storefront Community Resource Center. Survivors discussed the meaning of the Rosh Hashanah simanim and blessings, enjoyed musical entertainment, and heard the ceremonial blowing of the shofar by Rabbi Nolan Lebovitz, Senior Rabbi at Valley Beth Shalom. Café Europa members call Rabbi Lebovitz their “Rabbi in Residence” because of his dedicated involvement with JFSLA’s Survivors of the Holocaust Program for many years, including helping organize the annual Passover meal deliveries to survivors across the city and visiting Café Europa members during important holidays and occasions. In honor of his dedication to survivors and the Café Europa program, JFSLA presented Rabbi Lebovitz with a special award.

“This week’s Café Europa program was especially meaningful, as Café Europa and members of the JFSLA Board of Directors expressed their gratitude to me for my involvement and gifted me with an extraordinarily beautiful tzedakah box,” said Rabbi Nolan Lebovitz. “As a grandchild of survivors, it is my responsibility that all survivors receive love and support throughout the rest of their lives. My holidays can no longer begin without spending time with Café Europa and ensuring the survivor community hears the shofar once more.”

“Rosh Hashanah symbolizes renewal and is a time for reflection for all of us,” said Susan Belgrade. “Our survivors are grateful for our programming and feel joy in being able to celebrate another New Year together at Café Europa.”

For more information about JFSLA’s Senior Multipurpose Centers and the Arts, Wellness, and Engagement (AWE) Program, please visit For more information about JFSLA programs and services, please call 877-275-4537 or email