David Brooks of Springfield, a past president of Jewish Family Service of Central New Jersey, now sits on its board. Café Europa is a program for Holocaust survivors. Since the lockdown, Mr. Brooks has delivered catered lunches to local Café Europa members and other survivors. Mr. Brooks and his family have been JFSCNJ volunteers for a long time, and have worked with many programs; still, he says, the most rewarding of all his volunteering has been with survivors.
“During the pandemic it gave me the opportunity to bring my kids along for the experience, while they were virtually learning, and we all spent time together in a meaningful way,” he said.
One of the meals from Rye Deli in Springfield that Mr. Brooks delivered was to Holocaust survivor Max Laufer, 96, of Springfield. Mr. Laufer shared some of his experiences with him from being in a ghetto to a forced labor camp, and then, after the war, heading to Palestine, before settling in New Jersey.
Before covid-19, Café Europa met at the JFSCNJ Halpern Building in Elizabeth once a month, providing the chance to socialize, entertainment, and lunch to survivors from Union County. Now, during the pandemic, the group meets twice a month over Zoom, and also using the Israeli platform called Uniper. Staff and volunteers coordinate the delivery of a specially sealed catered lunch to participants.
One program included a presentation by Deb Kram, the outreach manager for the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, who announced updates for four compensation funds for survivors. Ron Doster was the featured entertainer.
In addition to many programs and services dedicated for Holocaust survivors through the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, and others, the Wilf Family Foundation generously supplements the catered meals.
Email Debbie Rosenwein, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (908) 352-8375 for information about services offered for Holocaust survivors in Union County and parts of Somerset, through Jewish Family Service of Central New Jersey.