President of Israel Reuven Rivlin greets Holocaust survivors in the warmest of welcomes at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem to mark International Holocaust Memorial Day !
By: News reporter of the ‘Yad Ezer Lechaver’
On the occasion of ‘International Holocaust Memorial Day’, which fell on Wednesday this week 27/1/2016, Holocaust survivors, staff and volunteers of the ‘Warm Home for Holocaust Survivors’ of the ‘Yad Ezer Lechaver’ foundation were hosted at the residence of the Israeli President in Jerusalem. President of Israel Reuven (Rubi) Rivlin met and hosted the Holocaust survivors in great warmth at a meeting of the most exciting caliber, and many present shed a tear. During the meeting President Rivlin said to the Holocaust survivors: “To those who lived at the bottom and managed to establish a home here, it is our duty to promise them that the Holocaust survivors who live among us, will live out their lives in comfort and will have peaceful lives.” The Israeli President further added: “It is no more than our moral duty as a country and as a people, with the window of opportunity gradually closing to promise the generation of survivors the required wellbeing. We, here in this country, owe to the Holocaust survivors these moments that shall not be lacking. The People of Israel is alive, and the survivors are without doubt one of the reasons for that.”
Founder and director of the ‘Yad Ezer Lechaver’ foundation Mr. Shimon Sabag, awarded during the meeting a painting born of the fruits of the paintbrush of a resident at the foundation’s ‘Warm Home’, Holocaust survivor Ms. Manya Hermann and this accompanied Mr. Shalom Shamberg, 92 years old, a Holocaust survivor from Poland who resided in the Warsaw Ghetto and survived the hell of the death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau and his wife Zelda, who is also a Holocaust survivor. Mr. Sabag said in the ceremony full of emotion: “There is no better proof for the Holocaust survivors that the People of Israel, than when the President and the symbol of the country hosts them here today at his residence, the presidential residence with the kind of honour bestowed to kings. If we had had a country at the time of the Second World War, it is clear that there would not have been a Holocaust. Now this is our goal, to strengthen the nation so that those who rise up to destroy us will not succeed and will not even think to do so.”
Director of the foundation Mr. Shimon Sabag also thanked the President for the invitation. President Rivlin praised Mr. Sabag, the staff and the volunteers of the foundation who work day and night for the wellbeing of the Holocaust survivors each day of the year. He further praised the blessed and sublime work of the ‘Yad Ezer Lechaver’ Foundation and the ‘Warm Home for Holocaust Survivors’, which is at the loving residence of the foundation in Haifa. “This is sacred volunteering”, so he said to the Holocaust survivors. At the end of the meeting, the President stood with the Holocaust survivors and spoke with them. The President also welcomed for a conversation in his office the director of the Christian Embassy, which donates to the ‘Yad Ezer Lechaver’ Foundation and to many other just causes.
The visit of the delegation of Holocaust survivors from the ‘Warm Home for Holocaust Survivors’ of the ‘Yad Ezer Lechaver’ Foundation caused an enormous influx of comments online, and this was due to the personal story of Holocaust survivor Mr. Shalom Shtamberg who was able during the ceremony to take out a black and white photo from the days when he was a young Jewish prisoner in the Warsaw Ghetto. President Reuven Rivlin saw the photo, took it in his hand, placed it against his chest and wiped a tear of emotion from his face. Director of the foundation Mr. Shimon Sabag, who saw the emotional tribute on the part of the Israeli President, was himself unable to hold back the emotion, to the point of tears; and it goes without saying that also for all those who were present, the warm welcome at the President’s Residence ended with not a dry eye in sight.
In addition all of Holocaust survivor Shalom Shtamberg’s family were murdered at the hands of the Nazi oppressor. He is a father to two daughters, a grandfather to seven grandchildren and a great-grandfather to six great-grandchildren.
For many years Mr. Shtamberg has devoted his time and contributed greatly to perpetuating the remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust and giving lectures to pupils and students in Israel and Germany on the events of the Holocaust, in which he tells his personal journey of survival. For many years he has been active and supports through donations the ‘Yad Ezer Lechaver’ Foundation and the ‘Warm Home for Holocaust Survivors’.
It is important to point out that the motto that accompanies Mr. Shtamberg is: “To remember and not to forget”. At his home, he is a manager of a small ‘museum’, in which there are documents, records and photos, which deal with documentation of the horrors from the time of the Holocaust.
At the end of the event Mr. Sabag added: “I stand here today, Mr. President, proud of all the Holocaust survivors that have come here. I feel so excited and I feel it a truly great privilege that I was able to establish the ‘Warm Home for Holocaust Survivors’, the only big home today in all of Israel, whose sole purpose is to provide for the wellbeing of the Holocaust survivors and to serve them, without any state support.
The group of Holocaust survivors who were hosted at the President’s Residence were joined by the staff and volunteers of the foundation, among them the brother of the foundation’s director Mr. Baruch Sabag, who manages the branch of the ‘Yad Ezer Lechaver’ Foundation in the city of Katזrin in the north; social worker Ms. Amit Shaked, the foundation’s security officer Mr. Yisrael Cohen and his wife Mali, the veteran security guard Reuven Frizi, who has volunteered at all the foundation’s events since the day it was founded; the foundation’s doctor- Dr. Arina Neimark-Aliohin, Holocaust survivor and resident of the Warm Home who also volunteers herself at the foundation- Ms. Chavah Hershkowitz, the foundation’s lawyer Mr. Chider Mustafa, manager of the social club Ms. Naomi Iluz, friend of the foundation Ran Lev, Noga and Yaron Carmi from the website ‘Chay poh’, representatives of the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem, including director of the embassy Mr. Juha Ketola and welfare manager Ms. Nicole Yoder, and many others.
It is worth pointing out that Israeli President Reuven Rivlin chose to hold the meeting with the Holocaust survivors in the reception hall of Presidential Residence, a hall in which the President holds state ceremonies to which highly esteemed guests have been hosted, such as President of the United States Barack Obama, the Pope and others.
When the Holocaust survivors along with all their guests entered the reception hall, they were greeted with great respect and a cold or hot drink that was served with great courtesy by the staff of the President’s Residence. The Holocaust survivors explored the inside of the President’s Residence in which there are busts made of bronze placed on pedestals of all those in the past who have held the role of President of Israel, which are situated both in the reception hall and the lounge of the President’s Residence.
The Holocaust survivors, staff and volunteers of the ‘Yad Ezer Lechaver’ Foundation, who attended the meeting at the President’s Residence were also joined by a group of soldiers from the 3rd Squadron of the Rocket Ship Command of the Navy in Haifa. These soldiers volunteer throughout all the days of the year in different activities for the benefit of Holocaust survivors of the foundation.
Photos: Joe Lotsiano , Yaron Carmi "Haipo" , Adir Yeziref
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