Letter from an Appreciative Holocaust Survivor


Special thanks to Israel365’s donors who support Holocaust survivors, either through our monthly program or the Guardians of Israel program.

Our donors support therapies and holiday gifts to Holocaust survivors throughout the Land of Israel who are suffering from various stages of dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other cognitive disorders. 

The programs and gifts greatly increase our beloved survivors’ physical and emotional quality of life. In many cases, the therapies provided slow their cognitive decline.

Tova is one of these fortunate survivors, and here’s her story in her own words:

I was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1931. I was the only daughter of my mother, a seamstress, and my father, a salesman of carpentry products. We lived in a modest one-room apartment in the workers’ quarter of the city, but I did not feel any lack of food or means.

During most of the Second World War, the nationalist and anti-Semitic regime led by Miklos Horthy ruled Hungary. He collaborated with the Nazis and enacted many anti-Semitic laws restricting Jewish activity. 

On the other hand, Horthy tried to delay sending the Jews of Budapest to concentration camps. This “favorable” act was because he knew that the Hungarian economy would collapse if the Jews were deported.

In 1944, when I was thirteen, the Nazis invaded Hungary and deposed Horthy. Under the auspices and support of Nazi Germany, the Nazi and anti-Semitic “Arrow Cross” party, led by Ferenc Szalasi, took over the government. Life became increasingly difficult, especially for the Jews of Budapest. 

Several Jewish families were forced to live in one apartment, and the apartment buildings where they lived were marked with a yellow Star of David. My mother and I moved into my great aunt’s apartment with other families. It was crowded, and we were limited in the number of hours we could leave our homes to shop for food and other essentials. My father was not with us at the time.

One day the militiamen of the “Arrow Cross” regime came and took my mother to a brick factory filled with Jews. They wanted to send the Jews to a concentration camp. But since it was nearing the end of the war, there were not enough trains to transport all the Jews. To my joy, my mother was released and returned to us.

After a few months, we Jews were moved from apartments to a fenced ghetto. In the ghetto, the situation got worse; overcrowding and hunger increased, and we were not allowed to go shopping at all. Once a day, we got a plate of soup. 

Most of the time, we stayed in the basement of the building, as the Allies were constantly bombing Budapest. Images of large residential buildings being bombed and collapsing like decks of cards were etched in my memory.

In the winter of 1945, the Russians occupied Budapest, freed us from the ghetto, and saved our lives. It turned out that although my mother, father, and I survived, about half of my uncles and aunts were killed in the war. 

I went back to school and was a good student, but at age 16, I decided to leave high school and study a practical profession – tailoring, while continuing evening studies. At the same time, I joined a Zionist youth group, which radically changed my life. 

In 1949, I immigrated to Israel illegally through Austria and Italy. About a year later, my parents followed and we lived in the beautiful Zichron Yaakov settlement.

Some months later, I joined a group of young adults that founded Kibbutz Dvir, north of Beer Sheva. When you hear about Israelis making the desert bloom, Kibbutz Dvir is proof. During this time, I worked in the laundry of nearby Kibbutz Lahav and in Kibbutz Dvir’s vegetable garden growing and picking onions. I also served in the army in the Nahal unit.

After a few years, I became disillusioned with the kibbutz life. Farming was just not for me. I moved to Jerusalem, where I began my nursing studies. I also met my late husband, Shimon, in Jerusalem. 

Shimon, also a Holocaust survivor from Hungary, was a carpenter and fought in the War of Liberation, Operation Sinai, and the Six-Day War. We married in 1955 and had two sons. Today, one son is a biology professor, and the other is a karate teacher and painter.

As a nurse, I worked for about twenty-five years in the maternity department at Hadassah Hospital in Ein Kerem. It was a very rewarding job, as you can imagine.

My husband died in 2001, and for the last 20 years, I have been living alone in Jerusalem.

Now in my glorious 90’s, my cognitive functions are unfortunately slowing. I have been in need of assistance, which Shoshana’s organization is providing me.

Since I was told that the donors of Israel365 help to pay for the programs and services I receive, I would like to thank them and let them know that their help is deeply appreciated.  

– Tova from Jerusalem


Please take a moment to watch this short video about Shoshana, our Guardian of Israel, who runs the Holocaust survivors’ care center that Israel365’s donors support.  

Then, donate below and select “Make this donation monthly,” or click here to join the Guardians of Israel monthly program!



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