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Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day, a day we set aside to recognize and reflect on the atrocities that happened not so long ago. As we remember and pray for the victims, survivors, and all others affected by the tragedy of the Holocaust, may we commit to always defending the oppressed whenever we see injustice occurring.

"Because I remember, I despair. Because I remember, I have the duty to reject despair." —Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor 

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As part of our Passover distribution, we visited 9 families in their homes to deliver financial aid. Even before we left to meet them, our prep work consisted of collecting data and participating in many phone calls. When we finally get to meet the recipients face to face, we are overjoyed. The personal encounters help us gain a better understanding of the impossible situation that they live in, and a reminder of the importance of our work. In some cases, we meet elderly people who struggle daily to survive instead of resting after a long, hard life.

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As part of our Passover aid distribution to terror victims, Batya and Ariel from the VFI team met each one of the recipients personally. They listened to their stories, gave them special attention and brainstormed to figure out how to help them further. One of the people they met is Shmuel, who was injured in a terror attack a few years ago and suffers from severe post-traumatic damage. Since the attack, he has been receiving psychiatric treatment and is unable to work. His wife's salary is not enough to sustain the family, with their three children.

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This week we've been busy distributing gift cards for Passover to many people throughout the land. One group of recipients consisted of terror victims. We met them at a central location in Jerusalem. We were able to meet each family personally, and it was important for us to treat these precious people with kindness and warmth. Some shared the immense difficulties they're dealing with, and some had their heads down and couldn't even smile. One lady in particular touched our hearts when she said, "I wish I didn't have to receive the gift now. I lost my husband. . . .

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An old Jewish proverb says, "Every generation, a person must see himself as though he came out of Egypt." When we meet Holocaust survivors, we connect to the exodus through them, these people who came out of slavery and unimaginable horrors into a life of freedom.

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In March, the participants of Café Europa were delighted to have different exciting speakers come visit. Gideon Braude, the founder of Bank Hazman (Time Bank), came to speak to the group. Gideon's program is about time sharing, where someone donates an hour of their time to the "bank" (like giving a child a math lesson), and in return, the person earns an hour to learn something that they are interested in. Gideon spoke about how the project began, as it is now functioning all over the world, and how it works in Jerusalem.

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Recently we received a request to help Shalom, a terror victim from Sderot. Before Shalom was injured in a terror attack in Sderot, he worked for the Israeli Prison Service. Since the attack, he has been suffering from post-trauma and needs supervision and care 24 hours per day.

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On March 8th, International Women's Day was celebrated. We wanted to give special attention to the strong women who are victims of terror, who press on and build themselves up while dealing with their trauma and all the difficulties that come with it.

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Spring has come, and Passover is right around the corner! As in years past, we are donating magnetic gift cards loaded with money to families in need who are in financial distress and cannot afford to buy cleaning supplies and food for their Seder.

 

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This month, we had multiple excellent events for our Café Europa community. A woman named Rochelle Gilbert gave an excellent presentation on how the phone and the Internet can be used to the benefit of the elderly. She explained the tools available for survivors to be in contact with their families, like WhatsApp and Skype, and the differences between the technology of Apple and Android. She also showed what their phones can do for them, including an app to store medical details, should a medical professional need them and they are unable to share.

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